"Moby Dick" by Herman Melville, 1895
It’s finally starting to feel like summer here in the northeast. Schools are out and students around the country are (eagerly!) picking up their summer reading books from their local libraries. This yearly ritual inspired me to pick out a few books from our shelves for a new Summer Reading List display in our reading room. Read more
The Phillips Library is pleased to announce the opening of a third digital collection – The American Neptune Collection. The quarterly journal of maritime history and arts, founded by a group of maritime enthusiasts, which included Samuel Eliot Morison and Walter Muir Whitehill, is available for your perusal and research. Read more
Start of the conflagration - the Korn Leather Factory, Boston Street
On June 25, 1914, a fire alarm sounded at 1:37 p.m. An explosion had occurred at the Korn Leather Factory on Boston Street in Blubber Hollow, the leather district in Salem, Massachusetts. Chemicals used to create the tip finish, a varnish used to shine patent leather, exploded causing a catastrophic fire to spread through the city. Although some of the tanneries were sprinklered, the wooden structures could not withstand the heat created by the fire and much of the leather district was destroyed. When the alarm sounded, only nine firemen were on duty; they responded as quickly as they could with a variety of firefighting equipment – steamer engines, hose wagons, and a ladder truck. A series of additional alarms sounded, bringing the entire department of Salem firefighters to the site of the blaze along with all the remaining firefighting equipment, leaving the rest of the city unprotected.