O'Fallon Progress

Fires 10 years apart hit same block in downtown O'Fallon

Brian Keller is the O’Fallon Historical Society president.
Brian Keller is the O’Fallon Historical Society president. rkirsch@bnd.com

One of O’Fallon’s most memorable fires was the one on May 23, 1953 that destroyed part of West First Street from what is now Mueller Florist to, but not including, Wood Bakery.

But there was an earlier fire, 10 years before, in the same location, starting the afternoon of April 1, 1943, that foreshadowed the big one. The origin of both blazes, coincidentally, was attributed to rubbish fires.

In 1943, the fire was confined to the one-story Central Bowling alleys, though the two-story, brick Allen’s store received extensive smoke damage. A large pile of shingle siding, destined for the hotel on the corner, also burned. Quick work by the fire department saved the buildings.

But the corner didn’t survive the 1953 fire. The hotel, bowling alleys, Allen’s store, and everything in between, was lost.

75 years ago

April 8, 1943

A happy meeting of two O’Fallon men in the Army took place somewhere in Africa when Pvt. Arthur Canterbury and Sgt. Delbert Bertram got together recently. The two men were friends here at home, and when Canterbury learned that Bertram was in Africa, he took time out to look up his old pal. They are in different outfits, but Canterbury succeeded in locating the other man. It is needless to state that it was a happy get together.

50 years ago

April 4, 1968

An ordinance establishing conditions for collection of garbage and rubbish in O’Fallon was passed on final and third reading Monday night on several split votes of the City Council and finally eliminated bids for the work in favor of a negotiated agreement.

Rubbish disposal is now generally handled by Dick Seipp, operating as JMJ Sanitation service under a licensing ordinance. Two licenses are permitted under the old ordinance, but no other hauler has operated here in recent years.

Under the new ordinance, the work will be restricted to JMJ with negotiated terms to be fixed by Seipp and the council.