The fire started in the attic about 15 minutes before the Stake Conference broadcast, but the fire alarms didn't go off and the smell of smoke wasn't bad until 15 minutes after. Several hundred people that were inside all got out safely.
Teppo our hero.
Hundreds of rare books were removed from the Institute library and passed along a human chain to the meetinghouse of the Quakers, who generously offered to give us storage space for them, and who were handing out juice and cookies!
Jackson Haight and friends
Christ emerges triumphantly from the ashes. The painting of Christ that was hanging on the wall between the foyer and the Chapel was untouched by fire or heat, and didn't have even a drop of water on it, even though the Chapel on the other side of the wall was completely destroyed by the inferno. This painting was beloved by all who had attended the Longfellow Park building. The painting was carried out of the building to loud cheers and applause by onlookers.
The line inside the Quaker / Community of Friends meetinghouse.
The nursery in the Quaker meetinghouse.
The triage station that was set up in the basement of the Quaker meetinghouse. There were thousands of rare and irreplaceable books in the Institute library that were soaked after the Longfellow Park meetinghouse had been drenched by fire hoses for several hours. Bro. David Bokovoy (holding the towel), a CES teacher and expert in ancient Near Eastern and Judaic scripture, led the triage process and was assisted by volunteers from both Quaker and LDS congregations.
Several members of the Longfellow Park 1 and 2 Wards are qualified experts in book binding, archive and preservation. Among them were Carly Weggeland (pictured second from left), as well as Katie Smith and Meg Rampton (not pictured). These members applied their skills and knowledge to save as many rare books as possible with the minimal damage. Paper towels were placed between pages, every few pages throughout the wet books, windows were opened and air circulated through the room with fans. Harvard offered to freeze-dry the most rare of the damaged books in their expensive book preservation lab.
Paper towels were placed between pages, every few pages throughout the wet books to save the pages from sticking together and buckling as they dried. The paper towels had to be changed several times as the books dried, a labor-intensive operation for the hundreds of books that were selected to be given special attention.
One of several resident experts on book preservation!
Mitt and Ann Romney with the Fire Chief
The meeting of local leaders to determine immediate courses of action.
The Family History Library
Room 1 (the corner room where Gospel Principles was taught)
You would think that firemen knew better than to smoke...
"JW", a fireman who called out the window to me, "There's a really beautiful painting of Christ and another one of a beautiful building with some people outside on the wall in here. You're going to want those, right? Let me bring them down to you."
The stairs into the basement floor. There was still a foot and a half of water on the floor after it receded from about three feet deep.
The Relief Society room
The cultural hall with collapsed roof
Pulling confidential files out of the Bishops' offices
The waiting area on the top floor
Looking down the hallway from the Bishops' offices past the Family History Center
Looking out one of the Bishops' offices
The old clerks' office upstairs
The far corner room
The Family History Center
The top of the collapsed cultural hall roof
We saved the piano!
Hymnbooks in the Relief Society room
The triaged books with paper towels inserted every few pages to allow them to dry out with minimal damage.
The inside of the Chapel
Tim's camera broke after taking hundreds and hundreds of photos today, and this is all he had left... he said he felt ridiculously crippled... poor guy, this must have been a blow to his photographer-manhood..
One of the most amazing miracles of the day: Jeanette found a large pile of important documents about the meetinghouse in an obscure place in the building two years ago, and put them in a cupboard in the library. She was the only one who knew where they were. When the fire broke out, she felt strongly that she needed to recover them, but the firemen said that the library was one of the worst-destroyed rooms. It was completely burned out and was one of the least safe areas to enter in the building, because the floor was soggy after the steeple had been hosed for over an hour to prevent it from burning and falling.
Eventually one of the firemen said that if it was that important to us, he would go in and look for the documents himself, but that he couldn't promise anything. A few minutes later he emerged with an armful of books, papers and blueprints from the closet. They were completely unscathed and completely dry even though the rest of the room was totally destroyed.
As well as blueprints, this pile included letters from the city and building permits that were granted when the meetinghouse was first constructed in the 1950s. These documents may be very important to us in the future as we apply for permits to rebuild, which may be very difficult because of the great historical importance of the neighborhood.
Sister Christensen looking through the documents.
Jeanette holding up one of the blueprints that she saved.
Evie with the Relief Society flowers that she saved
Evie rescued these flowers from a table in the Institute offices
Krista with piano keys!
Jared pulled apart the piano to clean it out and allow it to dry.
Items that were transported to the Binney St Chapel for storage.
The unloaders at the Binney St Chapel end.