Knickerbocker Theatre
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Tragedy

 

On January 28, 1922 The Knickerbocker Theatre roof collapsed under the weight of 28 inches of snow killing 98 and injuring 133 people in Adams Morgan at the corner of 18th Street and Columbia Road NW.

The 98 people that died at the Knickerbocker Theatre

Mary Ethel Atkinson, age 35

Dr. Andrew Jackson Barchfeld, age 59

Helena Meyers Barchfeld, age 35

Joseph Wade Beal, Age 26

Archie B. Bell, age 33

Frances Marie Bikle, age 16

William I. Bikle, Jr., age 50

Thomas Randolph Bourne, age unknown

Daisey Danforth Bowden, age 45

Chauncy Cory "Bud" Brainerd, age 47

Edith Rathbone Brainerd, age 37

Wilfred A "Doc" Brousseau, III, age 22

Albert G. F. Buehler, age 32

William Manduit Canby, age 32

Nellie Norris Covell, age 28

William Mortimer Crocker, age 26

Vinson W. Dauber, age 9

Thomas M. Dorsey, age 18

Helen Helms Williams Dortch, age 43

Kirkland R. Duke, age 15

Margaret Dutch, age 25

Guy Sunderlin Eldredge, age 39

Alfred George Eldridge, age 53

Harriett "Hattie" Amanda Elsom Eldridge, age 38

Frederick H. Ernst, age 33

McCarthy Farr, age 58

Virginia Bianchi Feraud, age 38

Christian Feige, age 69

John Paton Fleming, age 32

Mary Lee Fleming, age 29

Thomas Fleming, age 71

Mary Ann Forsyth, age 36

Esther Foster, age 21

George Sydney Freeman, age 25

Emma Winifred Gearhart, age 41

Douglas Hillyer, age 30

William Goldsborough Hughes, age 46

Daniel Kerfoot Jackson, age 50

Elizabeth Jeffries, age 23

John Miller Jeffries, age 27

Aulyn Kanston, age 7

Dorothy Kanston, age 12

Mabel Whistler Kanston, age 39

Oscar G. Kanston, age 40

Howard G. Kneessi, age 33

Cutler Laflin, age 16

Nannie Lee Lambert, age 24

Elizabeth Mueller Lehmer, age 30

LeRoy L. Lehmer, age 33

David Hinckley Lyman, III, age 16

Gertrude Louise O'Connor Martindale, age 25

Wyatt Coleman "Jack" McKimmie, age 19

Julian Gardner McKenney, age 45

Agnes Marie Mellon, age 19

James Murray, age 40

Genevieve Wilson Mirskey, age 25

Scott Montgomery, age 29

Veronica Murphy, age 26

Ernesto E. Natellio, age 42

Adeline B. Little O'Donnell, age 44

Dominick Francis O'Donnell, age 45

Vivian Ogdon, age 24

Caroline Campbell "Carrie" Newsom Pessou, age 56

Lois Pitcher, age 22

Hazel "Pat" Price, age 18

Marie Laskey Russell, age 51

William Bryan Sammon, age 25

William Lovick Schoolfield, age 31

Edward Henry Shaughnessey, age 39,

Dr. James F. Shea, age 28

Cora C. Sigourney, age 39

Marie Hobbs Smith, age 70

Laverne Sproul, age 17

Clarence B. Stephenson, age 25

Louis W. Strayer, age 54

Victor M. Sturges, age 19

Gertrude Elizabeth Taylor, age 28

Helen Christine Thompson, age 13

Gladys L. Tohms, age 24

William Tracy, age 38

Charles Cowles Tucker, age 52

Helen Miller Zimmerman Tucker, age 54

Carolyn Lois Upshaw, age 16

Jacob "Jack" Urdong, age 54

Rose Urdong, age 42

Louis Foote Valentine, age 56

Fannie "Fernie" E. Kinnear Valentine, age 45

Clarissa Meacham Brown Vance, age 43

Reginald Henley Conroy Vance, age 49

Mildred Carolyn Walford, age 24

Agnes Marie Henritze Walker, age 32

John L. Walker, age 34

William A. Walters, age 22

William E. R. Warner, age unknown

Isabel Wilson Warner, age 35

William Elliot Ramsden Warner, age 40

Anne Dunbar Davis Wesson, age 41

Ivan J. White, age 28

The Injured Survivors

Frank W. Alexander, age 56
Nobile Tomasso Asserto
Charles B. Bateman, age 53
Mrs. Ella Bateman, age 53
Miss June Bergman, age 21
Raymond L. Bland, age 14
Mrs. Mildred Bowen, age 26
Raymond J. Bowen, age 25
J. H. Boyden
Bernard Bresslau
Miss Sadie Bresslau
R. J. Brown
Mrs. R. J. Brown
Joseph C. Bruce, age 22
Elliott Frank Brumbaugh, age 15
Hazel Buehler

     (wife of Albert Buehler-Killed)
Dr. J. R. Canine
Gilbert Caplin
Mary L. Chalmers, age 72
George E. Cole, age 37
Miss Margaret Cole
Eloise Anderson Crocker, age 26

     (wife of William M. Crocker - Killed)
James A. Curtain, age 46
George Kelso Dailey, age 44
James H. Davidson
Issac B. “Bertie” Dodson, age 59
Fred W. Dodson, age 26
Hester Dodson, age 27
Joseph L. Durland, age 30
Mrs. Joseph L. Durland
Mrs. Bessie Shores

     (wife of Guy Sunderlin Eldredge - Killed)
Catherine C. Dodge Kneessi

     (wife of Howard G. Kneessi - Killed)

Inez Ewing
Clara Fisher
Miss Ruth Fouts, age 29
John Worthington Francis
William A. Galloway
Dr. Clyde M. Gearheart

     (husband of Emma Winifred Gearheart - Killed)
Norman Gibson
Hugh Glenn
Moe Gold
Sgt. Loren M. Goldman
Paul Golbart
John W. Grissinger
Mrs. E. Hadley or Haley
Dr. Custis Lee Hall, age 34
Mrs. Custis Lee Hall
Dr. Elmer E. Hayden
Mrs. Elmer E. Hayden
Male Child Hayden
Warren Halpen
Young Boy Henley
M. Pera Hill
Capt. J. H. Hill
Mrs. J. H. Hill
Mrs. Imogene Hillyer

     (wife of Douglas Hillyer – Killed)
James M. Hoffman
Miss Helen Hopkins
Grant Kanston, age 8

     (Parents and two sisters were killed.)

W. Benton Keller, age 36
John E. Klenner
Joseph Klenk
Mrs. J. H. Richardson
H. P. Robertson
Mrs. H. P. Robertson

Harry T. Lacy, age 50
S. M. Lee
Harold H. Levy, age 26
Clarence W. Long, age 28
Lillian Massee
Joseph L. McCarney

John J. McEverley

Mrs. Helen C. McKinney
John T. Metzerber
Jonas Michaelis, age 54
Frances Michaelis, age 52
Vincent T. Monahan
Mrs. Vincent T. Monahan
John A. Morgan
H. B. Moses
Mrs. Frances E. Murray

     (wife of George W. J. Murray - Killed)
Herbert Nash, age 14
Mildred B. Nash, age 20
Mary Passalacqua Natiello, age 40

     (wife of Orchestra Leader Oreste Natiello - Killed)
Oreste Natiello

     (Musician, French Horn in the orchestra)
Hugh Nesbitt
John Nesbitt
Catherine Nesbitt
Clarence Newkirk
Edward “Eddie” Nicklas, age 18
B. H. Odell
Mrs. B. H. Odell
J. I. Opriano
Henry Parson
Mrs. Guiseppe Pasquale, age 45
William J. Peters, age 41
Miss Virginia Poole, age 16
Miss Ruth Edna Postley
Henry C. Powell
Mrs. Henry S. Powell
John Prezioso, age 31

     (Musician in the Orchestra)
H. E. Quinn
Miss Belle H. Rambo, age 30
Nellie Ray, age 26
Paul J. Renz
Mrs. Paul J. Renz
Miss Maria Rhea
J. H. Richardson, age 36

A. B. Rosson
Charles T. Ruby
Bessie Russell
Edward A. Sachs, age 25
Walter Urdsaey
E. B. Sarolers
Mrs. Schwab
Myrtle Scanlan Shaughnessy

     (wife of Edward H. Shaughnessy - Killed)
Edward A. Sochs
Miss Martha Strayer
Albert A. Sward
Lt. Col. Taylor
Miss Mary Theunissen
Leonard “Leon” Theunissen
Herbert Crawford Thompson
Catherine B. Tracy, age 22
Etta Underwood
Nathan Urdong, age 40
Alphonso Vanpoucke, age 52
Mrs. Juliette B. Webb
Col. Charles M. Wesson

     (husband of Ann Davis Wesson - Killed)
Miss Nancy Wesson, age 16
Miss Madeline R. White, age 7
Malcom H. White
Edward A. Williams, age 63

     (Musician in the Orchestra)
Robert Williams
Mrs. Edelin Wilson, age 34
Henry W, Wilson, age 37
Mrs. Inez Woodruff
Miss Marie H. Young, age 10
Joseph Younger, age 27
W. I. Zalasky
Mrs. W. I. Zalasky

The Uninjured Survivors

James S. Addison
Mrs. R. J. Canine
Ida Clark

     (Organist in the Orchestra)
John Dunnam
Mrs. Dunnam

     (sister of John Dunnam)
Jimmy Hamilton

     (Film Operater)

Dick Kracke, age 14

Paul Mister

Mrs. Paul Mister

W. H. Morris

Daughter of Edwin P. Parker

Billy Pogue, age 14

Joseph Schrobuick

Charles Stein

List compiled by Debbie K. Chambers

 

Photos from before and after the tragic night.
(click on image to enlarge)

 

Resources

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1/28/22
Washington Post article by Paul Schwartzman:

A century later, the pain of D.C.’s deadliest disaster still resonates

100 Year Commemoration
and Dedication of Memorial Sculpture
January 29, 2022

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Neighbors for the Knickerbocker Memorial are hosting a centennial commemoration of those who died and were injured as well as first responders and neighbors who supported the rescue effort.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Noon - 3pm

Adams Morgan Plaza

(18th St & Columbia Rd NW)

  • An exhibit of historical photographs and news- papers documenting the first days of the disaster.

  • A program of speakers highlighting the snowstorm, the roof collapse, and rescue efforts.

  • A reading of the names and ages of the 98 people who died in the Knickerbocker Theatre disaster. 

  • Personal stories of survivors and descendants collected by a long-time researchers, and a first-hand account from an Adams Morgan resident and descendant.

  • The dedication of a memorial sculpture.

 

Inscription on Memorial Sculpture


Dedicated to our neighbors and visitors who lost their lives, were injured, or came to the rescue when the Knickerbocker Theatre roof collapsed in the snowstorm of January 28, 1922.

The Silent Violin
Cesar Maxit, 2022

The orchestra for the silent film playing at the Knickerbocker Theatre that night was missing too many musicians who were snowed in by the storm. The conductor, determined to have the show go on, called on renowned first violinist Joseph Beal, who lived nearby but wasn't scheduled to play since he had been married just four days earlier. Joseph played his violin that night until the music of those 98 lives went silent. 

Mt. Pleasant Library Knickerbocker Display
100th Anniversary of the Knickerbocker Theatre Tragedy

Our work has been inspired by the words of Paul E. Johnson whose letter to the chairman of the District of Columbia committee was published in The Evening Star of Washington, DC on February 1, 1922.

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Neighbors for the Knickerbocker Memorial is a group of Adams Morgan neighbors who have come together to honor the history of the Knickerbocker Theatre and work toward a permanent memorial at the site to honor the lives of those who died there.

Co-chairs: Sandra Reischel & Nancy Shia

Lead researcher: Debbie K. Chambers

Press outreach: Carol Miller

Press inquiries: Nancy Shia

Press release

Contact Neighbors for the Knickerbocker Memorial:

knickerbockermemorial@gmail.com

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