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Julie Arrison
Great Salem Fire 1914 Symposium Details
Wed May 7, 2014 14:09

THE GREAT SALEM FIRE OF 1914 a centennial symposium



On June 25, 1914 fire broke out in the Korn leather factory at 57 Boston Street in Salem and was
quickly carried by high winds across the city. By dawn the next morning the blaze had finally been
quenched, but much of Salem lay in ruins. More than 18,000 people were left homeless and 10,000
were without jobs.

This two-day symposium will be held at Salem State University near the 100th anniversary date of
the conflagration. During this conference, we will recount the dramatic story of the fire that raged
for 15 hours and destroyed 1,376 buildings on 253 acres across a swath of the city from the leather
district in Blubber Hollow to Salem Harbor and ignited other blazes in North Salem and Marblehead.

Co-sponsored by Historic Salem, Inc., Historic New England
and Salem State University

Friday, June 20, 2014
4:30 pm Walking tour of the Great Salem Fire of 1914 with Margherita Desy and Donald Friary
6:30 pm Preview: “Images of the Great Salem Fire from the Nelson Dionne Collection,” Salem State University Archives
7:00 pm KEYNOTE PRESENTATION: Bruce Hensler, firefighter and fire historian, “Crucible of Fire: Nineteenth-century
Urban Fires and the Making of the Modern Fire Service”
8:00 pm Wine and cheese reception and viewing of “Images of the Great Salem Fire from the Nelson Dionne
Collection,” Salem State University Archives
Saturday, June 21, 2014
8:30 am Registration and coffee
9:00 am Welcome and opening remarks: Beth Anne Bower, chief of staff to the president, Salem State University
Introduction: Bethany Jay, assistant professor of history, Salem State University, and symposium moderator
9:10 am Margherita M. Desy, historian, Naval History and Heritage Command Detachment Boston, United States
Navy, “Fire will Destroy Property Despite all the Ingenuity of Man: Fighting the 1914 Salem Conflagration”
10:00 am Emily A. Murphy, park historian and acting chief of resource stewardship at Salem Maritime and Saugus Iron
Works National Historic sites, “‘The Military Call’: The National Guard Response to the Great Salem Fire of 1914.”
10:50 am Donald R. Friary, president, Colonial Society of Massachusetts, “Rebuilding Salem: Slate Roofs, Brick Three
Deckers, and the Quaint Colonial Type.”
11:40 am Comments and questions
12:00 pm Lunch
12:15 pm Open forum to share family memories of the Great Salem Fire
1:30 pm Elizabeth Blood, professor of French and chair of the world languages and cultures department at Salem State
University, and Elizabeth Duclos-Orsello, associate professor of interdisciplinary studies and coordinator of
American studies at Salem State University, “Le Grand Feu: Franco-American Memories of the Great Fire.”
3:00 pm Soft drinks and comments and questions
3:30 pm Closing remarks
4:00 pm Walking tour of The Point with Elizabeth Blood and Elizabeth Duclos-Orsello.
Walking Tours: Pre-registration required; $10 per person fee for either or both Friday and Saturday walking tours for
those registered for the conference; $12 for non-registrants
Conference: Advance registration recommended; $25 fee includes lunch and refreshment breaks
Registration: For more information and to register, visit or call 978.542.7757
To request accommodations: Contact disability services at
978.542.6217 or
The Salem Fire conference is co-sponsored by Historic Salem, Inc.
and Salem State University with generous additional support from
Beverly Bank and Salem Five
symposium schedule

    • 1936 Maxim Salem FDDon Croucher, Thu May 8 09:38
      Just an FYI, we have a 1936 Maxin pumper that came from the Salem FD in our Calif Fire Museum collection
      • Great Salem Fire 1914 Symposium DetailsJulie Arrison, Thu May 8 12:16
        That's awesome information. It's been very interesting to go through the different museum collections to see what folks have. Thanks for the information!
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