March 30, 1900, a fire started in the roof of the
Columbia Theater on Monroe street in Chicago. In
thirty minutes it was gutted, the upper floors
having fallen into the stores on the ground floor.
Fire chief Swenie said it had been a recognized
fire trap for some time. In an odd coincidence, one
of the upper floors was the meeting place for the
rehearsal was in progress when the fire broke
out. The few people in the building escaped. There
were a few injuries, none requiring hospitalization.
of those who escaped was the assistant treasurer,
Thomas Noonan - who
later became the business manager at the
Iroquois Theater and was the senior manager when the
Iroquois fire took place. Another Columbia
employee who would in four years be at the Iroquois
Theater was chief electrician,
Davis remarked, "Thank God there was no matinee on.
I shudder to contemplate the consequences of such a
case. I have feared such a catastrophe. The house
had outlived its usefulness."