The Great Fire of Jacksonville:
An Artistic Description of a Gloomy Affair
Smoke billows across the St. Johns River as Jacksonville burns to the ground, May 3, 1901. Detail from a painting by H. Bond.

Photo Links
D.U. Fletcher & C.E. Garner
Fire at 12:45
Fire at 2:55
Hemming Park Before Fire
Hemming Park Since Fire
St. James Hotel Before Fire
St. James Hotel Since Fire
Windsor Hotel Before Fire
Windsor Hotel Since Fire
Remains of Gardner Office Building
County Court House before Fire
Ruins of County Court House
Ruins of Duval County Armory
Devastation for Miles
St. Joseph Convent School
Church of Immaculate Conception
Col. Lovell & Staff
Forsyth Street
Bay Street before Fire
Bay Street after Fire
McTyer Memorial M. E. Church
City Building & Market
Commissary Department
Women's Auxiliary Association
Trinity M.E. Church before Fire
New Trinity M. E. Church
Bell Telephone Gang
"A Little Discouraged"
Fire Department
Saved for Destruction
Fleeing Smoke & Flames
Laura & Forsyth Streets
Summer Opening
Refugees

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Exhibit Notes
Around noon of Friday, May 3, 1901, a small fire broke out in the refuse pile of a fibre factory on the northwest side of Jacksonville. Drought conditions, a rising breeze, and flying sparks defeated efforts to douse the flames. Within minutes, flaming moss and debris carried to nearby roofs.

The great fire of Jacksonville had just begun.

By 12:30 p.m., the city's firemen were desperately trying to contain the blaze as it spread like a ceiling of flame over their heads. The battle continued for eight hours, leaving the residents of Jacksonville exhausted and the city itself in ashy ruins. This exhibit combines images from Jacksonville in Flames with text from Acres of Ashes to recreate an account of the catastrophe.

The editor of Jacksonville in Flames was himself a victim of the fire and his "Introductory" provides one example of how people reacted to disaster:

"The artist, with his camera, has portrayed, without embellishment of pencil or brush, the story of destruction, devastation and despair in such an effective manner that any elaboration at the hands of the editor is entirely unnecessary.  

The editor and publisher of this booklet, together with his family, are among the unfortunates, and their loss would have been greater had they had anything more to lose. 

It is hoped that the returns from this little booklet will enable the publisher to purchase a cooking stove, flat irons, wash tubs and other ornamental necessities necessary to a family who have never learned to keep house without articles of this kind. Should the sales be sufficiently numerous a new printing outfit might be purchased.  

There will be no objection to purchasers buying more than one copy.  

Should any charitable person feel disposed to pay $50.00 dollars or more for a single copy, a check for the amount will not be looked upon as an insult."

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This exhibit digitized for the Web by Laia Mitchell
© 2001 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries
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Send comments and/or questions about this site to James Cusick, curator, Florida history jamcusi@uflib.ufl.edu.
Updated February 28, 2001