While foraging through the Manchester Historic Association’s archives the past few months, I’ve always noticed pictures of the Kennard Block Fire. It wasn’t until this week did I click on them and learned about this truly devastating fire right on Elm Street. The Manchester Fire Department has a brief synposis of the tragic fire on their website (see below). What makes this fire so terrible, in my opinion, was the amount of businesses lost–about 120! Additionally, some work by artist John Rogers was destroyed.
The Fire Department’s website states:
On January 14, 1902, one of the city’s handsomest buildings, the Kennard Block, was destroyed by fire. The fire started about 9:00 P.M. in the ceiling of the Allen and Kimball Clothing store at the north end of the structure. The fire was thought to be under control within a half hour but soon the entire building was ablaze. Fire traveled through the block, end to end, and through all 5 stories. The stores on the ground floor were among the most dominant in town and this block housed many offices of lawyers and doctors. Also destroyed was an 82-piece set of the work of one of Manchester’s most famous sculptors, John Rogers. The Rogers groups were stored in the Manchester Institute of Arts and Sciences. The entire building was reduced to rubble, with a loss of over $500,000.