Home‎ > ‎


On May 10th, 1914 a major fire began in Manito during the shift of Night Marshall Edward Naven.  Naven discovered the fire not long after it first started but once the fire reached the heavily oil soaked work bench it reached the point of no-return.  Naven rushed his 63 year old body to the Manito Hotel (Rollerdome) to begin ringing the alarm bell.  The volunteer fire department had little if any effective equipment in the era when bucket brigades were often the most effective fire fighting device a small town had.


By the time a significant number of fire fighters had been aroused from their deep sleep, the fire had already destroyed the Brenner and Hendricks Harness Shop and reached the Marshall Hardware's storage sheds not far behind the harness shop.  Near the back of the harness shop was a doorway that led into the recently completed Pollard and Gordon Garage that bordered the alley.  Once the fire burnt through the door it soon engulfed the garage.  Several cars were inside the garage, three were pushed outside but four cars were destroyed in the fire.


Marshall's main building facing Broadway was 30 years old and was entirely of "frame" construction.  Two new cars inside were rescued and the entire supply of tires were also pulled from the fire's path.  The company's business records were also rescued.  Many other records were trusted to the safety of the company's safe but the safe was bulged and thought to have ruined most documents inside, but two days later when the door was finally opened many papers had survived.


Dimmig's restaurant building which also housed one of the village's telephone services and a residence was the last building to burn.  Many felt that Dimmig's could have been saved but without a secure water source and adequate fire fighting equipment it ended up being a total loss.  The Bloomington Pantagraph reported that the fire caused about $75,000.  In today's money adjusted only for Cost of Living  $75,000 of 1914 dollars would be equal to $1,830,000 but an estimated economic loss of $35,300,000.00.


Beside the phone service destroyed in the Dimmig Building, a second service was also destroyed leaving Manito with only the ability to communicate with the outside world via telegraph.


Most of the business destroyed in the fire never re-opened.  The harness shop re-opened in an existing building east of the alley that was not affected by the fire.  The Pollard & Gordon garage rebuilt in the same location.  In 1915 the People’s State Bank acquired the former location of Dimmig’s Restaurant for their new building.  Also the Citizen’s Phone Company built a new switching service just north of the former site of Marshall’s.

watch the video below.

1914 fire story too.mp4