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Rhodes Opera House fire january 13, 1908


Sep 27, 2011
Charlton Ma
On January 8, 1908 The Rhodes Opera House Boyertown, PA, burned, killing 170 people. The building built in 1885 had a bank and hardware store on the first floor. The second floor had an auditorium, called the Opera House, and the third floor was dressing rooms. Over the years this auditorium held plays, all kinds of productions, and even lectures

5 years after the Iroquois Theater Fire another tragedy involving exiting problems, flammable furnish and crowed conditions

From The Pennsylvania Center for the Book - Rhoads Opera House Fire , Accessed January 13 2013

The Rhoads Opera House Fire sadly echoed that of the Iroquois Theatre Fire which had occurred five years earlier under similar circumstances, but with a shocking mortality number of 602 people. Prompted by grief and awareness, on May 3, 1909, a little over a year after the fire, Governor Edwin Stuart of Pennsylvania signed the state’s first fire law, and the entire nation followed suit.

In particular, Act 233 addressed the installation of safety features in buildings, such as doors which opened outward, more than one exit from second floors, properly lit exterior doors from backstage areas, easily accessed and visibly marked fire escapes, fire extinguishers, and the requirement that all door exits were to remain unlocked throughout the performances. Act 206 also required fireproof booths for projector machines and stereopticons, remembering the hiss that caused the hysteria. No one from Boyertown will ever forget the fire, and neither can the nation. The Rhoads Opera House fire is the ninth deadliest fire in the history of the United States and was the inspiration that prevented further lives lost to flames.

A short clip

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Boyertown, PA Rhoades Opera House Terrible Fire, Jan 1908 | GenDisasters ... Genealogy in Tragedy, Disasters, Fires, Floods