5 Famous Buildings That Survived the Great Chicago Fire

Ashley | 12 - 08 - 2020
5 Famous Buildings That Survived the Great Chicago Fire

The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 was one of the most disastrous accidents in history. It burned from October 8 to October 10, 1871. How big was the great Chicago fire? It killed around 300 people and 17,000 structures and the damage caused is estimated to be $200 million. It destroyed around 3.3 square miles of the city. Around 100,000 residents were left homeless after this incident. There are many theories for the cause of the Chicago Fire but the exact reason is still unknown. Many claims that the fire was caused by Mrs. O’Leary’s cow, who knocked over a lantern and started the fire. The fire started to spread to the nearby buildings and moved towards the center of the city quickly. The cause of the rapid spread of the fire was considered to be the hot climate and the city’s predominant usage of wood for houses and other buildings. The fire department of Chicago responded quickly but at first, the firefighters were sent to the wrong address due to an error caused by the watchman. After a long struggle, the fire finally came under control only on October 10th.  

Buildings That Survived the Chicago Fire

Luckily, there are some famous landmarks in Chicago that survived the Great Fire. We have explained the list below.

1) St.Michael’s Church 

There is a saying, “If you can hear the bells of St. Michael’s, you are in Old Town”. It is one such popular landmark of Chicago. St. Michael’s church is a Roman Catholic church and is located in the old town neighborhood of Chicago. It is one of the buildings that survived the Chicago Fire. Though the building was heavily damaged, it survived the fire. Most of the buildings in Chicago were made of wood but St. Michael’s church was constructed with bricks. This is considered to be one of the major reasons why the church survived the mass fire accident. Later, the building was quickly rebuilt and this was taken as an opportunity to expand the church. This was known as a sanctuary of German Immigrants but once, they heard the news of the fire, the parish members packed their valuables and fled away. 

1. The Great Fire of Chicago Burned from October 8 to October 10, 1891.
  • A. True
  • B. False

2) Old St. Patrick’s Church 

Old St. Patrick’s church, commonly known as Old St. Pat’s is a Roman Catholic parish in Chicago that was built in the 1850s. It is one of the oldest buildings in Chicago. It is described as the “CornerStone of Irish culture” in Chicago. Luckily, church fire, Chicago did not reach the Old St. Patrick’s Church. The Great Chicago Fire missed the Old St. Patrick’s church in just two blocks. 

3) The Chicago Water Tower

The Chicago tower fire earned so much fame for the Chicago Water Tower. The tower was built in 1869 by William W. Boyington. The tower is 55 meters tall and is the second largest building in Chicago after the Louisville water tower, Kentucky. The tower was originally built to draw water from the Lack  Michigan in order to house a large water pump. This is one of the buildings that survived the Great Fire. In fact, it is the only public building to have survived the Great Fire in that area. The Tower became famous only after the incident of surviving the fire. The tower underwent two major renovations, one from 1913 to 1916 in which most of the limestone blocks were replaced and another in 1978 which had only interior changes. The Tower is now known as City Gallery in the Historic Water Tower which serves as Chicago’s Office of Tourism art gallery featuring several photographs and artworks of several local artists of the city. 

4) The Clarke House

The building was built in 1836 by Henry B. Clarke. It is the oldest surviving house in Chicago. It was designated a Chicago Landmark on October 14, 1970. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 6, 1971. The house was originally built near Michigan Avenue. But now it is located near its original location in 1827 S. Indiana. It is now known as the Clark House Museum operated by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. 

5) 2121 N. Hudson 

It was the home of a police officer, Richard Bellinger. In order to avoid the fire, he ripped off the wooden fence and sidewalk in front of the house. He was so determined to save his house from the tragic incident that he filled all the buckets and bottles he could find and wet the property fully. He also cleared all the dry leaves on the house with the help of his brother-in-law. On the second day, when the fire was approaching his house, he swiftly began to extinguish the fire. Later, he quickly ran around his house, and eventually, the fire started to slow down. Later, in the late 1860s, the house was renovated. This house is now worth $1 million dollars. The 2339 N Cleveland and 2323 N Cleveland are other two residences that survived the Great Chicago Fire.

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