Monday, October 21, 2013

Spang Bakery Fire – October 21, 1968

Back in September (here, here and here), I wrote a few times about Lorain's Spang Bakery and how the business had disappeared from the city directory in the late 1950s. I had heard that the building that housed the bakery had later burned down, but wasn't quite sure when.

Since those posts, I stumbled on the newspaper articles about the fire. It happened on Monday, October 21, 1968 – 45 years ago today.

Below is the story that appeared in the Journal that day.

Lorain firemen battle blaze at Spang Bakery 
(Photo by Dona Norlock)
Fire Hits Spang Bakery

A TWO-ALARM fire raged through the vacant Spang Bakery building at West 22nd Street and Oakdale Avenue in Lorain this afternoon.

ALL OFF-DUTY firemen were summoned.

The city had condemned the building, owned by Olimpio Giannini, recently placed on probation following a morals case at the Antlers Hotel, which he also owned.

Flames shot 50 to 100 feet in the air at the bakery building. Billowing black smoke mushroomed into the sky.

No one was reported injured.

Firemen responded at 1 p.m. A fire dispatcher said he received at least 25 telephone calls reporting the blaze.

At 1:15 p.m., the roof of the two-story brick and frame building collapsed.

The next day – October 22, 1968 – the Journal did a follow-up story (below).

LORAIN FIREMAN Alex Nagy directs a stream of water into the burning
Spang Bakery from the bucket of the snorkel truck – which lifted him
above the flames. (Journal Photos by Dick Papania.)
Lorain Firemen Fight 6 Hours to Save Condemned Building
By Dick Papania
Staff Writer

Three companies of Lorain firemen aided by off-duty men, fought six hours yesterday to save a building condemned by the city for about a year.

THE BUILDING, which was vacant, is often used by teenagers for glue-sniffing and other activities, Lorain police said. Two teenagers were reported seen leaving the building shortly before the fire was reported at 1 p.m. yesterday.

Lorain fire investigators are looking into the possibility of arson, but have not yet determined the cause of the fire.

There was no estimate of damage. All that still stands are the brick walls of the main part of the building. The east wing was not damaged by flames.

OLIMPIO GIANNINI sips coffee as firemen
battle to save the vacant Spang Bakery
building, which he owns. Giannini said he
might donate the building and land to the
city for a parking lot.
Olimpio Giannini, who owns the structure, at the scene yesterday said he might give the land and building to the city.

"THEY CAN tear it down and use it as a parking lot," he said.

Giannini was released from Lima State Hospital last week. He had been sent there about a year ago after he was convicted of a morals violations involving a 16-year-old girl at the Antlers Hotel, which he owned.

Part of Giannini's probation terms direct that he not operate a motel, hotel or the like. The court ordered the business of his two hotels, the Antlers and the Colonial, be handled by his wife.

"I don't think the bakery building is included," Giannini said, referring to the court order. "The property has nothing to do with housing people."

About a year ago, City Building Inspector James Romoser started condemnation proceedings on the building. Because Giannini was in Lima, though, the necessary legal papers for demolition could not be served.

City officials said today they still are not sure what they will do about tearing down the building.

One fireman, Paul Linna, suffered minor face and hand burns while fighting the blaze. He required only first aid.

In all, firemen poured more than 300,000 gallons of water into the building. There was no value set for the building. It was not insured.

According to this 2010 article on the Morning Journal website, the city sold the land to Compassion Missionary Baptist Church in 1993. The attractive church building (below) was finished in 2000.

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