THE 1914 FIRE THAT CLAIMED TEN LIVES AT THE FLORIDA INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL FOR BOYS IN MARIANNA,
FLORIDA: ESCAPE DOORS LOCKED





















http://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/20102




1922 General Note
"This is a general view of the campus and main buildings at Department number Two which houses over two hundred boys. This is the type of building which housed the
white boys but after the lamentable fire which destroyed them in 1915 it was decided to have a much neater design."


ARTICLES

THE NEWS HERALD
FROM MARLENE WOMAC

http://genforum.genealogy.com/fl/jackson/messages/493.html

One year later on Nov. 17, 1914, the school experienced one of its worst scandals. The headlines of the Times Courier of Marianna reported: "TEN LIVES LOST IN
INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL FIRE
- White School Building No. 1 Destroyed - Victims of Death on Second Floor - Fire Escapes Could Not be Opened. THOUGHT TO
BE INCENDIARY."

The burned building was designed to house 100 boys. It was built of brick with much interior woodwork, which made it a veritable firetrap. It had, however, recently been
equipped with fire escapes, and the institution had a fire-fighting organization, but not adequate water supply.

The newspaper reports stated that "not one body could be identified in the fire. Flames spread while all slept except two inmates, detailed as guards,
who rushed upstairs to fire escapes that have never been opened and screaming for help, "were soon mercifully smothered to unconsciousness."

I.A. Hutchison, Panama City's representative in management at the reform school, left immediately for Marianna. He attempted to clear up some of the conflicting
stories. Later, he reported "the horrible holocaust" was sensationalized by false accounts "of locked doors and keys that could not be reached."

LATER ON: SAME PAPER & WRITER:
An investigation revealed that "officials higher up" had neglected their responsibilities. Those in immediate charge were found to be "frequenters of houses of ill fame"
while on duty. Several others reported absent from work, grossly neglecting the care of the boys.

In 1915, a second investigation committee, appointed by the state to ascertain the cause of the fire, blamed management. Then, according to the Panama City Pilot,
instead of confining themselves to the issue, the committee and candidates for public office turned the fire into a political issue.

They recommended the removal of the facility to some point in Central or South Florida. "Why should West Florida be the seat of any of the state's institutions," queried
other newspapers, echoing the comments of downstate politicians.

But in an allocation lost to passerby on the grounds, a small wire-fenced cemetery, marked with white crosses, remains from the big fire in 1914.

************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************
FROM FLA STATE ARCHIVES
http://thewhitehouseboysonline.com/FSB-TIMELINE.HTML

Nov. 18, 1914: A fire erupts in a ''broken and dilapidated'' stove in the white boys' dormitory while almost all of the staff members were in town. Six boys and two staff
members die in the fire, resulting in a grand jury report.
************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

November 1,1914  Miami Herald

http://thewhitehouseboysonline.com/ARTICLE-1914FIRE-FSB.html

Fix the responsibility

Two instances of how the lamentable fire at the school of Marianna affect the families and friends of those who lost their lives in that horrible accident are told in the
Tampa Tribune

Clifford Jeffords, 15 years old, was incorrigible at Clearwater, and no other charge than playing truant from school was lodged against him when he was sent to the
reform school.

Mrs. Fred Wetherbee, care probation officer: Dormitories of industrial school burned last night. 10 lives lost. Among the dead was your son Joe Wetherbee, bodies
charred beyond identification. Will be buried here. Greatest sympathy to family.

W.H. Bell, acting superintendent: Immediately upon receiving the information Mr. Lanier located Mr. Wetherbee who is employed at the shops of the Seaboard Air Line
railroads. The sad news was told to the father and Mr. Lanier went personally to the home of the family on Day Street to offer words of sympathy to the family. The boy's
mother was frantic with grief when she learned that terrible news.

For playing Truant from the school a boy is placed within the care of the state, under the law. The state houses him in a building where there is insufficient fire
protection. It neglects to see that a competent night watchmen is employed to guard the premises at night. It permits the use of an oil lamp at night. It sends the boys to
the third story of the building, and, to make matters certain for the inevitable horror, locks them in so that they have to climb through a skylight to obtain safety.

Some of them had not the time to save their lives, and eight boys perished.

It is certain that the parents of those boys will suffer all the sorrows at the horrible fate of their children than they would have had their son's lost their lives in some
college in the north.

It is said that the state can do no wrong. The people of Florida would be glad to know, that the state is not responsible for the death of those eight boys who lost their
lives in the Marianna fire. Furthermore, they want to be assured that the investigation into the accident is thorough and that the responsibility for the accident will be fixed.

*********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

FROM IDAHO STATESMAN

MARIANNA, FLA.
REFORM SCHOOL BURNS: INMATES LOSE LIVES: ESCAPE DOORS LOCKED

"Ten Persons Perish in Destruction of Florida State Institution at Marianna"

"NEARLY A HUNDRED BOYS ESCAPED BY CLIMBING THROUGH A SKYLIGHT AND DOWN THE SIDES OF THE THREE
STORY BUILDING ON FIRE ESCAPES."
















Title  Florida Industrial School for Boys  Image Number  PT01444 Year 1922
Series Title: General: Political collection  
 http://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/20095
General Note:  Mr. George Robinson has charge of this department.

"Department number Two is primarily the agricultural section of the institution, the colored boys operating the entire farm. At the same time, though, many are learning
other useful occupations such as brick laying, dairying, animal husbandry, tailoring, etc.."

"This is a general view of the campus and main buildings at Department number Two which houses over two hundred boys. This is the type of building which housed
the white boys but after the lamentable fire which destroyed them in 1915 it was decided to have a much neater design."

The Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Florida, was a high risk residential commitment facility operated by the Department of Juvenile Justice for male youth
13 to 21 years of age who were committed by the Court. The school originally opened in 1900 as the Florida State Reform School. It was later known as the Florida
Industrial School for Boys (1914-1957), the Florida School for Boys (1957-1967), and finally the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys. The school closed in 2011.
Source  The Light, v. 3, no. 1. Published by the printing class, Florida Industrial School for Boys.

Note: This picture is a closeup of the building identical to burned dormitory. Supposedly The Superintendent and older boys escaped through the tower.   


Robert Straley:  I have yet to find ONE picture of a cottage with a fire escape. This building, that boys escaped the fire by going through a structure on
the top of the roof, I looked it up and found the building. It was dated 1922  PT01448  That was 8 yrs AFTER the fire. This is the building they escaped from, on
the right with the tower. Something is wrong here...fire was in 1914. If they decided to change the buildings to smaller cottages then the date on this picture is yet
another mystery. They would have hardly have built one in 1922 identical to the building that burned in 1914.


IDAHO STATESMAN REFORM SCHOOL BURNS: INMATES LOSE LIVES
FRONT PAGE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_0YRpSB0C0&feature=youtu.be

IDAHO STATESMAN 11/19/14


REFORM SCHOOL BURNS: INMATES LOSE LIVES

TEN PERSONS PERISH IN DESTRUCTION OF FLORIDA INSTITUTION AT MARIANNA

ESCAPE DOORS LOCKED

HUNDRED GET AWAY THROUGH SKYLIGHTS AND DOWN SIDES ON FIRE ESCAPES

MARIANNA, FLA. "NEARLY  A HUNDRED BOYS ESCAPED BY CLIMBING THROUGH A SKYLIGHT AND DOWN THE SIDES OF THE THREE STORY BUILDING

ON FIRE ESCAPES."

"ALL DOORS WERE LOCKED IN THE SECTION WHERE THE DEATHS OCCURRED"


THE EVENING INDEPENDENT NOV 19, 1914   ST. PETERSBURG  PINELLAS COUNTY  FLORIDA
FULL REPORT

Waldo Drew's Body Not Yet Found---CLICK LINK BELOW

http://thewhitehouseboysonline.com/ARCHIVE-1914FIRE-EVENING-IND.html

SEARCH FOR MISSING ST. PETE BOY CONTINUES

http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=950&dat=19141120&id=i58LAAAAIBAJ&sjid=PlQDAAAAIBAJ&pg=1683,1769892

















































































































REMARKS  R.Straley

RWS: NOTE THAT THREE OF THE REPORTS ARE IN CONFLICT. One has them: screaming for help, "were soon mercifully smothered to unconsciousness."
which suggest no one got out,(Marlene Womac) the other (Idaho Statesman) says
nearly a hundred boys escaped.

As was noted in Part One of this series, he led the younger boys to safety while Acting Superintendent W.H. Bell and others took the older students from
their wing up through the tower and across the roof to safety. In this way, the board members reported, 95 students were saved.

Then in the Evening Independent W.H. Bell climbs to the skylight and tower (no mention of him guiding any boys out), instead he goes straight to the
office for the keys but it is in flames. He grabs an axe and goes to the second floor to free those within but fails. The floor collapses and all perish.

In another report he heroically guides 100 boys across the roof to safety



















































































THE WHITE HOUSE BOYS SURVIVOR'S ORGANIZATION
A Project Dedicated to the Survivors of the White House
Post Office Box 5817
Clearwater, Fl.  33758
http://whitehouseboys.com   
http://thewhitehouseboysonline.com  
Founder: Michael O'McCarthy
Director of Media - Press Contact:
Cell Phone: 727-542-4519
Email:
rstraley@gmail.com  
I find myself hard pressed to think that 100 boys, woken from sleep, smoke, fire confusion and panic, would somehow all
get out by climbing through a skylight: "Victims of Death on Second Floor - Fire Escapes Could Not be Opened."

What about the third floor? How did they reach the skylight in the first place? I find it hard to believe there would have
been stairs to the skylight in a top floor building with a pitched roof. On the second and third floors a door located along
the wall would have opened onto a small platform and then down the steps. This design has not changed from 1900 to
at least eighty years. A person with the key to that door should have been in both rooms. And, even if the boys did get
out on the slanted roof what would have happened when they got to the edge? The overhang of the roof was at least
three feet. There was no way to drop down and onto the second story fire escape platform. There would not have been
built a second-up to the skylight stairs, then hand railings and steps and then a ladder down to the second story fire
escape landing. That defies logic. Who would have built a more dangerous second fire escape route. I think nobody.
One door out the side would have been it and nothing else. At the bottom is an example of a similar building. Note
the overhang.



NEWS HERALD  Marlene Womac

An investigation revealed that "officials higher up" had neglected their responsibilities. Those in immediate charge
were found to be "frequenters of houses of ill fame" while on duty. Several others reported absent from work,
grossly neglecting the care of the boys.

In 1915, a second investigation committee, appointed by the state to ascertain the cause of the fire, blamed
management. Then, according to the Panama City Pilot, instead of confining themselves to the issue, the
committee and candidates for public office turned the fire into a political issue.

They recommended the removal of the facility to some point in Central or South Florida. "Why should West Florida
be the seat of any of the state's institutions," queried other newspapers, echoing the comments of downstate
politicians.

But in an allocation lost to passerby on the grounds, a small wire-fenced cemetery, marked with white crosses,
remains from the big fire in 1914.  End

RWS Comment:
Juveniles burned alive in a boy's reformatory does not make good press. Why three Grand Jury Investigations?
Losing eight to ten boys would have been a disaster, add ten more and the school would have possibly
been closed.
Overhang on Washington Cottage,
typical for the buildings
Note:  Archive snapshots are slow to load. Loads fastest in
Chrome. Sorry, wish I could do better...R