On Ash Wednesday, March 4, 1908, Collinwood's Lake View
Elementary School became the site of the country's worst school tragedy.  Shortly after 9:00 a.m., and while school was in session, overheated steam pipes ignited nearby wood joists, resulting in a raging fire.  The fire caused a large panic, and roughly half of the students were unable to escape, crowded in the doorways.  In the end, 172 children, 2 teachers and 1 rescuer perished in the fire. 

Initially, it was believed that the students were unable to escape because the doors opened inward.  This later proved in error--the children died partly as a result of their own panic.  Nonetheless, this tragedy resulted in improved building and fire codes, as well as the practice of fire drills.

The bodies of 19 students could not be identified.  The city of Collinwood purchased a common grave for the unclaimed children, who were buried in a row, in individual white caskets.  In a second row in front of the unidentified children (and closest to the monument) are 10 additional graves of victims who were identified, but whose families chose to bury next to the other children.
 

"In memory of the teachers and students who lost their lives in the Collinwood school fire"

 

A closeup of the memorial's plaque.  The charred-looking face of a guardian angel is depicted with children huddled under her protective wings..

 

Behind the monument are 4 tombstones belonging to individual, identified victims.  Barely visible beneath the surrounding bushes and dirt/leaves are small numbered squares of white marble--the only markers for the remaining graves.

On the left, the marker for teacher Grace M. Fiske.  Her inscription reads:  "He will swallow up death in victory –Isaiah"

On the right, the marker for the three Leonard children who died together in the fire: Herbert (1897-1908), Arlene (1898-1908), and Louise (1899-1908).

 











 

The grave of 9 year-old Edgar T. Woodhouse, whose tombstone inscription reads, "our loved one ---gone before.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The grave of 13 year-old Nellie T. Carlson (1895-1908).

 

 

Back to Main Lake View Page                                                                                    Next Page