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History of the Great Fire of Boston
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THERE was a large number of publications in the city, the owners of which were among the losers in the great fire. The most unfortunate among the newspapers was “The Boston Daily Evening Transcript,” a periodical which well deserves the compliment of “The London Telegraph,” that it is “a literary news publication of a most excellent order.” Their loss would have been a national calamity had not the proprietors been endowed with a wonderful amount of energy, courage, and hope. While their building was yet burning, they prepared for the next issue from the office of “The Boston Daily Globe.” The building then being burned was the fourth structure occupied by the proprietors of the paper, started in July, 1830, at Nos. 10 and 12, Exchange Street. In May, 1845, the establishment was removed to Nos. 35 and 37, Congress Street; where it remained until the erection of the building Nos. 90 and 92, Washington Street, in 1860.

By each of these removals, larger and more convenient quarters were secured. The contrast between the premises in Exchange Street, where the paper was printed forty-two years ago, and the large and elegant edifice in Washington Street, suggests the great changes which have taken place in the publishing .of newspapers since 1830. 1n July, 1830, the first number of “The Transcript” was issued by Dutton and Wentworth, then the State printers. Mr. Lynde M. Walter, the editor, was one of the proprietors. The enterprise was an experiment of doubtful success. The paper was coldly received by its contemporaries of the Boston press, some of whom refused to exchange with it. But “The Transcript “kept on in the even tenor of its way; the ability and tact of Mr. Walter winning friends and patrons, and commanding the respect of influential citizens. It was the pioneer of the evening press in Boston, and is now the second in age of the Boston dailies; “The Advertiser” alone being its senior.

“The Transcript” was under the sole management of its first editor until his death in 1842. After this date it was conducted with signal success for several years by a sister of Mr. Walter, aided by Mr. Henry W. Dutton, the senior proprietor, who still lives to witness the growth and prosperity of the little “Transcript “he took the lead in launching more than forty years ago. After the retirement of Miss Cornelia W. Walter, the paper, for a series of years, was under the control of Mr. Epes Sargent.

In February, 1853, he was succeeded by Mr. Daniel N. Haskell, who has been editor for nineteen years. The two immediate predecessors of the present editor are now occasional contributors to the paper.

The building occupied by “The Transcript” at the breaking-out of the fire was one of the finest structures in the city. It was situated on the easterly side of Washington Street, the second estate south of the old South Church, on the site of the premises occupied for many years by Smith and Gore. The structure was erected, in a great measure, of enduring and fire-proof materials, — iron, stone, and brick, — and most favorably compared with those of similar newspaper-establishments in our own or other cities of the United States. Its ground dimensions were a hundred and three feet in depth east to west, with a frontage-width of twenty-seven feet on Washington Street, gradually reduced, by angles and recesses in the north side of the same, to twenty-one feet at the rear or east end of the site, and bounding upon a passage-way communicating directly with Milk Street.

“The Boston Post” had the misfortune to be nearly burned out; which is, in every sense, the next thing to a conflagration. The new post-office building did most excellent service in warding off the flames from the structure owned by the publishers of “The Post,” on the corner of Devonshire and Water Streets, and from which “The Post” was issued. But the demon crept so near, and so often seemed to have such a powerful grasp upon it, that much damage was done, and much inconvenience suffered, because of the hasty moving. “The Post” was started by Mr. Charles G. Greene in 1831, who proposed “to exclude from it every thing of a vindictive or bitter character,” and who has most honorably kept his promise. It has dealt fairly with all parties while advocating the tenets of the Democrats; and many a man honors and supports the paper because of its considerate generosity and cheerfulness who is much opposed to its politics. It is the leading Democratic paper of New England; and yet no politician on the other side has, to our knowledge, found in it any desire to take a “mean advantage” of him. Consequently there was genuine sadness when that cheerful publication was in danger, and afterwards regret on every hand that it should suffer in the general ruin.

Fortunately the “Journal,” “Herald,” “Advertiser,” “Traveller,” “Times,” “Globe,” and “News “were not touched by the flames; although the “Traveller” and “Journal” were in uncomfortably close proximity to the devastation, and were considerably disturbed by the preparations for moving.

“The American Homes,” monthly magazine, published by Charles H. Taylor and Co., and edited by Col. Taylor, the senior partner in the publishing-firm, suffered considerable loss in type, paper, magazines, plates, valuable wood-cuts, chromos, and presses stored at the office in Water Street, and at the composing and press rooms on Federal Street. “The Success of the Nineteenth Century,” as this magazine has been so often named, on account of its wonderful increase in circulation, had no sooner been established on Cornhill, in the building occupied by Rand, Avery, and Co., than a fire broke out which drove the publishers a second time into the street; but, with commendable zeal, they secured a place at 61 Cornhill, and, in twenty-four hours, were filling their orders. Several hundred of their premium chromos and a package of magazines were all that was saved of very much value.

“The Pilot,” a weekly publication owned by Patrick Donahoe, one of the veteran publishers of Boston, was located in the fated Franklin Street, in the same building with the great Catholic publishing-house and the Emigrant Savings Bank, all under the management of Mr. Donahoe. “The Pilot” has an able corps of editors; and the writer was listening to a speech from the editor-in-chief, at the press dinner, when the alarm of fire was given. It is one of the very best Irish-American publications in the States. It appeared for a short time in half-sheet; but was very soon issued at the usual time, and of the former size.

The loss to Mr. Donahoe was over two hundred and fifty thousand dollars; and, as if it were the determination of the Furies to destroy every thing, he was also a heavy loser in the subsequent fire on Cornhill. “The Boston Globe” mentioned this matter a few days after the fire in the following apt manner:

 “We have received ‘The Catholic World’ for December from Patrick Donahoe, 360 Washington Street. Mr. Donahoe, though an earnest Catholic, will forgive us for subordinating the consideration of “The Catholic World’ to our sympathy with his individual case. ‘Individualism’ may, or may not, be bad in theology; but it is very natural in business and in matters of personal friendship. There is much controversy as to which particular class of Christians will be tenants of ‘the burnt districts’ in the next world; but all publishers, at least, have a tender feeling for any of their brethren of the press who may happen to get into it in this. Mr. Donahoe has been so brave, resolute, cheerful, and confident in meeting the calamity which destroyed his magnificent building on Franklin Street, that the hearts of all of us go out to him in cordial sympathy. The burning, afterwards, of a whole edition of ‘The Pilot’ in Rand and Avery’s fire, made most of us have a semi-Catholic interest in the paper. Any third dispensation of Providence in the same direction will make some Protestants sympathize with the creed as well as with the man. He has been so thoroughly undaunted by vexatious interruptions with his ordinary work and business, that the inference is that he must have got some of his strength of will and heart through the church to which he belongs. At any rate, we feel sure that the ‘fire-fiend’ can never beat Mr. Donahoe, either in a fair or unfair fight, but that he will continue his Catholic paper, and distribute his Catholic books, in spite of all the malice of fate and fortune.”

“The Waverley Magazine,” owned by Moses A. Dow, was located in Lindall Street, and was published from one of the most convenient and neatly-arranged printing-establishments in New England. The destruction of the office did not, however, interfere with its regular publication.

“The Boston Journal of Commerce,” which was hardly out of its infancy, was “thus early made to fly from its nest,” but appeared promptly on the next day of publication.

“The Saturday-evening Gazette” was driven from its long abode on Congress Street, and lost a vast amount of material. Fortunately for the readers, Mr. Parker had no thoughts of suspension; and, with hard work and many annoyances, a temporary abode was found for the homeless “defender of honest men,” and “The Gazette” appeared and re-appeared as if there had been no struggle and no loss.

Among those periodicals, the offices of which were located in the burnt district, were the following:

 “American Painter,” weekly; “American Railway Times,” weekly; “American Union,” weekly; “Ballou’s Monthly Magazine;” “Banner of Light,” weekly; “Boston Almanac and Business Directory;’’ “Cabinet-Maker,” weekly; “Christian Monthly; ““Freemason’s Monthly Magazine;” “Gleason’s Home Circle,” and “Gleason’s Monthly Companion;” “Harness and Carriage Journal;” “Journal of Applied Chemistry,” monthly; “Boston Journal of Chemistry,” monthly; “Little Christian,” monthly; “Monthly Novelette;” “New-England Postal Record;” “Shoe and Leather Record,” weekly; “Shoe and Leather Reporter,” weekly; “Shoe and Leather Trades Journal,” weekly; “Sierra Magazine,” monthly; “Temperance Press,” weekly; and “The Yankee Blade.”

There were many large printing-establishments consumed, where vast quantities of material and unbound periodicals and books were temporarily stored, which were owned by firms whose places of business were not included in the devastation; so that many publishers were heavy losers by the fire whose place of business remained unchanged. Wright and Potter, the State printers, had, besides their own enormous stock of type, presses, paper, plates, cuts, engravings, and furniture, a vast quantity of property belonging to the State and to individuals. The same might be said of a number of other printing-offices which passed out of existence on the wings of the wind. The loss to the owners of newspapers, magazines, and printing-material, was over one and a half million of dollars.

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