BANGOR'S GREAT FIRE OF 1911


Starting Point

J. Frank Green's hay shed at the start of the Bangor Fire. Fire fighters and citizens help with the hoses. Soon, the fire would be out of control.




Kenduskeag View

The 1911 Fire burns in 3 places as seen from the Kenduskeag. It started near the burning structure on the left and quicky jumped the stream, propelled by gusty winds.



State Street Bridge

Pedestrians walk over the State Street bridge in what remains of downtown Bangor. The debris of Bangor Savings Bank is on the right, with the burned out Customs House on the left.



Bangor Savings Bank

An unidentified man stands in front of the building housing Bangor Savings Bank, the Bangor Historical Society and the Bangor Public Library near the Kenduskeag Stream on State Street.




Cleanup

After the fire, the job of cleanup and reconstruction was immense. This man walks along State Street, the ruins of Bangor Savings Bank and the Morse Oliver building behind him.



Universalist Church Before

The Universalist Church on Park Street hill, before the fire. Center Park is in the foreground.




Universalist Church Ruins

The ruins of the Universalist Church on Park Street hill after the 1911 Fire. The church was later rebuilt from the surviving shell, but without its two steeples.



Graham Block Before

The Graham Block on the corner of Central and Harlow streets, before the fire.




Graham Block Ruins

The remains of the Graham Block, with the Universalist Church beyond.




Graham Block Rebuilt

The new Graham Building under construction on the corner of Harlow and Central streets.



Clean up on Exchange St.

Clean up along Exchange Street. The remains of the Morse Oliver building stands at the right, while the fire's stopping point, the Nichols Block, is on the left. The tower of Union Station is seen at the end of the street.



Morse Oliver Building

The Morse Oliver Building, on the corner of State and Exchange streets. At the time of the 1911 Fire it was Bangor's tallest building at seven stories.



Pedestrians

Pedestrians, including a military cadet from the University of Maine, view the damage.



First Congregational Church

The First Congregational Church and Parsonage, at the corner of Broadway and State streets, before the fire.




Rebuilt All Souls

The rebuilt All Souls Congregational Church at the corner of Broadway and State streets.



Broadway

Families survey the destruction along Broadway, one of many neighborhoods destroyed by the fire.



Broadway and State

Surveying the losses in the vicinity of Broadway and State streets.



Customs House and Post Office Before

Bangor's Customs House and Post Office, before the fire. Located on an island in the Kenduskeag Stream, and across the street from Bangor Savings Bank, its position was at the heart of the fire downtown.




Tarratine Club Survives

The ruins of the fire, including views of State, Harlow and Park strrets. The Customs House is in the foregound (left) with the Universalist Church beyond. The surviving Tarratine Club can be seen on Park Street hill to the right of the church.



Norumbega Before

Norumbega Hall, on an island in the middle of the Kenduskeag Stream, before the fire. By 1911 this grand building was being used as a furniture store and storage but in its prime it accomodated crowds of thousands for memorable gatherings. A park exists on the site today, part of a post-fire planned firebreak.



Franklin St. Bridge

Children pose on the Franklin Street bridge over the Kenduskeag Stream. Behind them are the ruins of the Graham Block (left) and the Customs House (right).




Franklin St.

Pedestrians along Franklin Street and the Franklin Street bridge.

Interactive map of the Great Bangor Fire and its effect. Roll over each location to see photos of affected buildings.

Rebirth and rebuilding

Posted April 29, 2011, at 11:54 a.m.

While the downtown fire district smoldered, there were hopeful signs that Bangor would weather the worst disaster in its 142-year history. Buoyed by a hopeful nation and the words of Mayor Charles Mullen, who forecast a swift rebuilding, the Queen City set out to put the Great Fire behind it and began planning for a 20th century renaissance.

After an official figure of around $3,168,080 was decided on, with 60 percent of the lost property covered by insurance, civic planners and landscape architects set out to help redesign downtown. But first, more than 60 acres of debris had to be carted away, the remains of businesses, civic landmarks and private dwellings. About 200 teams of horses were put to work, and the mayor announced that every man in Bangor willing and able to work would be hired.

Soon, portable buildings housing displaced businesses and city workers lined Harlow Street. Meetings were held at City Hall, untouched by the fire, where local architects C. Parker Crowell and Wilfred Mansur submitted plans for new office buildings. Warren H. Manning, a Boston landscape architect, announced his plans, which included modernizing the street system and opening blocks of green space that also would serve as fire breaks should another fire occur.

By 1914, most of downtown had risen from the ashes. Six-story office buildings such as the Eastern Trust block, Graham building, and Exchange block were complete, along with a new public library and high school. A post office was built on Harlow Street, while private residences such as the Arthur Chapin house at 58 Broadway replaced burned property.

The most remarkable post-fire rebirth may have been with the houses of worship. Of the six churches and one synagogue lost on April 30, a half-dozen were rebuilt. Third Congregational and First Parish merged and became All Souls Church; First Baptist rebuilt at the top of Center Street hill; First Universalist reconstructed its brick edifice; St. John’s Episcopal rebuilt a brick church on French Street; Advent Christian rebuilt on Center Street; and the Jewish synagogue rebuilt on York Street.

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