FIRE! 1854

Quenzel’s history – “The present century-old St. George’s church narrowly escaped complete destruction by fire on July 19, 1854, little more than five years after its erection. The blaze, discovered at 2 :30 A. M. in the coal cellar directly below the vestry room immediately behind the chancel, completely ruined the pulpit and the vestry room with all of its contents. The total loss was estimated at $5,000, including the $1,250 organ which was not insured.

There were numerous theories regarding the cause of the fire, one of which attributed its origin to an incendiary, since no fire or light had been used in the church for several weeks. Immediately after the fire an editor appealed to the city council to replace the “rotten, good-far-nothing hose” then in use with 2,000 feet of hose for each fire company. This journalist also felt that a few hooks and several substantial ladders were urgently needed.”

Thomas Knox was elected to the Vestry in 1836 and served until his death in 1890. That’s 54 years, impossible today. He purchased pew 56 at the current church in 1849 and served on the building committee that directed its construction. He was secretary of the Vestry 1854 and wrote a letter July 29, 1854 after the fire in the chancel expressing thanks to the fire company and citizens for helping put out St. George’s fire. He was senior warden from 1874 until his death.



During the renovation 2008-2011, the church put a catwalk in the attic. The attic still retains signs of the 1854 fire. In addition when the flooring was done in the chancel, the sub-floor showed unmistakable signs of this fire.


Weekly Advertiser, July 22, 1854