Our Opinion: Bells ring out history
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Any discussion of highlights in history shared by Missouri and Jefferson City invariably includes the 1911 conflagration that destroyed the Capitol.
The centennial anniversary will be commemorated with a series of events Saturday — precisely 100 years since a Feb. 5, 1911, lightning strike ignited the blaze that claimed the second Jefferson City Capitol building.
Although designed in 1840 with fire prevention in mind, post Civil-War expansion ironically caused the building to “burn like a massive wood stove,” according to local artist and event organizer Jim Dyke.
Based on his research, Dyke said the addition of two wings complicated firefighters’ efforts to battle the blaze from within while the metal exterior prevented water from penetrating.
Saturday’s commemoration begins with bells and sirens.
At 6:15 p.m. — during the exact hour the fire began — fire trucks will “Sound the Alarm” as they circle the Capitol, in unison with bells being rung at the Cole County Courthouse and area churches.
Participating fire departments will include those from Jefferson City and Sedalia, which mobilized and traveled by train to assist.
A brief ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda will follow and will include remarks by Mayor John Landwehr and a history by local author and historian Bob Priddy.
The evening will culminate with a reception and exhibit from 7:30-11 p.m. at Cottonstone Gallery and Frame Shop, 116 E. High St.
The exhibit will feature artifacts from the Capitol fire, including a door and desk from executive offices and a portion of a pillar. Also on display will be photos of the Capitol before, during and after the fire, as well as Dyke’s painting of the incident. The exhibit will continue through Feb. 28.
In addition, at 2 p.m., Feb. 19-20, Scene One Theater actors and special guests Warren Krech and Mayor and Mrs. John Landwehr will perform a readers’ theater, “Breaking News: The Capitol is on Fire.”
The commemoration promises to provide an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about the history of our city and state. We encourage our readers to respond.