#TBT From the NFPA Archives: Missouri Athletic Club & Boatmen's Bank Fire - March 9, 1914

Blog Post created by jrodowicz Employee on Mar 9, 2017

Missouri Athletic Club and Boatmen's Bank Fire on March 9, 1914

37 people lost their lives in a fire at the Missouri Athletic Club & Boatmen's Bank on March 9, 1914.


At 1:58 AM on March 9, 1914, a night watchman discovered flames and turned in the first alarm at Boatmen's Bank in St. Louis, MO. The rest of the 7 floor building was occupied by the Missouri Athletic Club, which housed guests on the fifth and sixth floors.


From the NFPA Quarterly v.7, no. 4, 1914:


"The guests were first awakened by the ringing of the telephones in their rooms and the cries of fire called by the night clerk. Some of the guests on the fifth and sixth floors, who had apparently found their way to the fire escape cut off, rushed into sleeping rooms on the west side of the building and leaped from the windows to the adjoining four-story building occupied by the St. Louis Seed Company. Many were injured in this manner. A number of bodies were located close to the windows on the third and fourth floors which showed that they had endeavored to reach the fire escape which was located directly in front of the Club windows in the Washington Avenue side.


This fire adds one more to a long list where buildings of this character have burned with fatal results which could, unquestionably, have been prevented if a properly maintained automatic sprinkler system had been installed. The open elevators, poor fire escapes and similar features aided in the spread of flames and failed, as usual in their function of providing a safe means of egress."


For more information regarding this or other historic fires, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA Library

The NFPA Archives houses all of NFPA's publications, both current and historic. Library staff are available to answer reference questions from members and the general public.