30th November 1929 – The Parkersburg Fire and the Legacy of Dr. C.M. Boger

In my quest to unearth the rich history and contributions of Dr. C.M. Boger to the field of homeopathy, a serendipitous discovery unfolded from the pages of old homeopathic literature. It was the address of Dr. Boger’s clinic office, a place where he practiced and made significant contributions to homeopathy.

This address, “225 Seventh St., Parkersburg, W. Va.,” not only pinpoints a physical location but also serves as a gateway to understanding the legacy of this esteemed practitioner, as referenced in “Boger’s Legacy” on page 40.

Dr. Boger’s Clinic and Google Maps

Intrigued by this revelation, I turned to modern technology to bridge the gap between the past and present. Utilizing Google Maps, a tool that allows one to traverse the globe virtually, I embarked on a digital expedition to locate Seventh Street in Parkersburg. It is fascinating how technology can instantly connect us to a location steeped in history.

My search was fruitful; not only does Seventh Street still exist, but it also preserves its historical layout. Amongst its buildings, one can find structures with numbers similar to 225, standing as silent witnesses to the bygone era of Dr. Boger.

Google Map showing aerial view of Dr. Boger’s Clinic location

This digital exploration into Seventh Street is more than a mere search for an address; it represents a journey into the past, offering a glimpse into the world where Dr. Boger practiced and made his indelible mark on homeopathy.

Timings of Dr. Boger’s Clinic

In this photo you can see timings of clinic of Dr. CM Boger.

The streets of Parkersburg, lined with buildings that have withstood the test of time, echo the legacy of a man whose work in homeopathy continues to influence practitioners like myself.

As I navigated through the map, the lines and contours on the screen transformed into a vivid tapestry of history, connecting the present to a time when Dr. Boger walked these very streets, dedicating his life to healing and homeopathic advancements.

Historical view of the 7th street lane

The Camden Theatre

Delving into the historical tapestry of Parkersburg, the Camden Theatre emerges as a significant cultural landmark. Strategically located between 7th and 8th streets, with its facade facing Market Street, this theatre was not just an architectural marvel but also a beacon of arts and entertainment in the early 20th century.

The Camden Theater

The theatre’s design, a blend of aesthetic elegance and practical functionality, featured a three-tiered auditorium capable of seating 1,400 spectators. Each level offered a unique vantage point, ensuring an immersive experience for every member of the audience. The meticulous arrangement of the comfortable seating underscored the theatre’s commitment to providing an exceptional viewing experience.

3 Floors of the Camden Theater

Beyond its physical structure, the Camden Theatre played an active role in the cultural enrichment of Parkersburg. It hosted a myriad of performances, from plays and musicals to operas and ballets, attracting not only local residents but also visitors from afar. These events fostered a sense of unity and shared cultural experience, contributing significantly to the social and cultural dynamism of the area.

The Camden Theater 1914

A notable feature of the Camden Theatre was its orchestra, renowned for enhancing performances with its rich auditory depth. The theatre was also commendable for its advanced safety measures. Equipped with automatic fire shutters at every stage opening and a comprehensive fire hose system connected to the city’s water supply, it was a pioneer in ensuring the safety of its patrons.

In essence, the Camden Theatre was more than a physical edifice; it was a symbol of Parkersburg‘s cultural prowess and community spirit. It stood as a testament to the city’s commitment to the arts, enriching the lives of its citizens through entertainment and cultural engagement, and contributing to the economic and social fabric of the city.

Discovering the Untold Story

While I was amalgamating research for my thesis back in 2002 and 2003, I stumbled upon a remarkable event—an incidence of a major fire in Dr. CM Boger’s office. This piece of information was part of my collected research, showcased in a special file.

Interestingly, I chose not to include this incident in my thesis due to space constraints and because it didn’t align directly with the research context. However, the significance of this event was too great to be left in the annals of forgotten history, which is why it found a dedicated mention in my book “Boger’s Legacy.”

November 30, 1929, Saturday

November 30, 1929, remains etched in the annals of Parkersburg’s history as a day of unforeseen calamity. It was a day characterized by a biting cold, with temperatures hovering around a mere 10 degrees above zero. The frigid air was more than just a discomfort; it was a harbinger of the catastrophic events that were to unfold as the day turned into night.

As darkness descended upon Parkersburg, an unforeseen disaster struck. The historic Camden Theatre, along with a significant portion of Market Street stretching from Seventh to Eighth Street, and numerous business buildings nestled between Juliana and Market Streets, were about to face one of the most disastrous fires in Parkersburg’s history. The fire, which originated beneath the theatre’s stage, was a silent predator, unnoticed until it revealed its destructive power.

The first signs of the blaze were discovered at approximately 7:30 p.m. on that fateful Saturday evening. What began as a concealed fire beneath the stage rapidly morphed into an uncontrollable inferno. Within a mere three hours, the fire had engulfed the entire block, transforming it into a catastrophic scene of flames and falling debris. Bricks, heated by the intense flames, began showering down, adding to the chaos and danger.

The fire departments of Parkersburg and Marietta rushed to the scene, bringing with them every available resource in a desperate attempt to tame the raging fire. Despite their valiant efforts, the fire seemed to defy containment. Firefighters battled relentlessly, wielding every piece of equipment and stretching every inch of hose in a race against the roaring flames.

By midnight, the situation had escalated dramatically. The brick walls of the surrounding business buildings, weakened by the intense heat, began to collapse, tumbling into Market Street. This added a new level of peril to the already dire situation, as firemen navigated the hazardous environment in their struggle against the fire.

The Camden Theater – next day

Even as the sun rose the next day, the inferno continued to smoulder, a stark contrast to the icy cold surroundings. Firefighters persisted in their efforts, pouring water onto the still-hot ruins, which stood in stark contrast to the ice and bitter cold of the immediate surroundings. The once bustling and flourishing section of the city was now a landscape of ruins, a testament to the fire’s destructive power. Thousands of residents and onlookers crowded the streets, witnessing the aftermath of what was once a vibrant part of their growing city. The smouldering remains spoke volumes of the incident’s severity, leaving a deep scar in the heart of Parkersburg.

That night, Parkersburg lost more than just the historic Camden Theatre; it also lost numerous shops and offices. The fire of November 30, 1929, was not just an event; it was a transformative moment in the city’s history. It reshaped the urban landscape and left an indelible mark on the collective memory of the community. The ruins stood as a sombre reminder of the fragility of human endeavours against the unpredictable forces of nature.

Dr. Boger’s Clinic devastation

The catastrophic fire of November 30, 1929, left a trail of destruction that deeply scarred the north side of Seventh Street in Parkersburg. Among the structures that bore the brunt of the inferno were prominent local businesses and offices, each a thread in the fabric of the community’s daily life. The Elsie Janis Hat Shop, a cherished establishment known for its fine millinery, was either destroyed or badly damaged. This shop was more than a business; it was a symbol of the local fashion and elegance, a place where styles were set and social interactions flourished.

Adjacent to it, the Caroline Beauty Parlor, a haven for grooming and social gatherings, faced a similar fate. Here, residents of Parkersburg once sought relaxation and camaraderie, making it a vital part of the community’s social life. The offices of George G. Mead, a respected optician, also succumbed to the flames. His office was not just a place of business but a vital service point for those seeking visual aids and eye care, integral to the well-being of many in the town.

Near Dr. Boger’s Clinic – view of 7th street

Notably, the office of Dr. C.M. Boger, a distinguished figure in the homeopathic community, were also caught in the devastation. The loss of his office was not just a physical one; it represented a temporary setback in the provision of homeopathic care and treatment to the residents of Parkersburg. In the photo you can see board of Atlantic & Pacific near to Dr. Boger’s Clinic.

Other establishments like the A&P Tea Store, a popular spot for groceries and daily essentials, the Ira Congrove Shoe Shop, known for its quality footwear, Parkersburg Leather Company, a testament to the town’s craftsmanship, and Howard’s Barber Shop, a place of regular congregation and conversation, all faced destruction or severe damage.

This event, now over 90 years in the past, remains a poignant memory in the history of Parkersburg. It serves as a stark reminder of the vulnerability of even the most “fire-proof” buildings, challenging the notions of safety and invulnerability. The Camden Theatre, once celebrated as Parkersburg’s most fire-proof building, stood as a symbol of this irony, its destruction underlining the unpredictable nature of such disasters.

The recollection of this fire is not only preserved in the collective memory of Parkersburg’s residents but also documented in literary works. In “Boger’s Legacy,” which I had the privilege to author, this incident is mentioned on page 43, serving as a historical account of the tragedy and its impact on the community, including the loss of Dr. Boger’s office. The fire of 1929, though a tragic chapter, has become an integral part of Parkersburg’s rich history, a testament to the resilience and recovery of its people in the face of adversity.

Parkersburg’s Phoenix

In the aftermath of the devastating fire of 1929, the landscape of downtown Parkersburg underwent a significant transformation. The charred remains of the old buildings, including the once-magnificent Camden Theatre, were methodically razed. This clearing of the ruins marked not just the removal of debris, but the beginning of a new chapter in the city’s history. The entire block, which had once been a scene of desolation, was earmarked for redevelopment. This process was not merely a reconstruction of buildings; it was a symbol of Parkersburg’s resilience and determination to rebuild and rejuvenate its community.

As part of this revitalization, a notable development occurred at the corner of Eighth and Market Streets. Here, in a building that once housed the Montgomery Wards Store, a new beacon of culture and art was to take root – the Parkersburg Art Center (PAC). The choice of this location for the Art Center was symbolic, turning a site of past tragedy into a place of beauty, learning, and cultural expression.

Established in 1938, the Parkersburg Art Center embarked on its journey as a cultural institution, gradually establishing itself as an integral part of the community. Over the years, PAC has played a pivotal role in nurturing and showcasing artistic talent. Its presence in downtown Parkersburg has been a source of inspiration, providing a platform for artists to display their work and for the community to engage with the arts.

The Parkersburg Art Centre’s significance extends beyond its local impact. It holds the distinction of being West Virginia’s oldest cultural agency in continuous operation. This longevity is a testament to its enduring relevance and its ability to adapt and evolve with changing times. The Art Center has become a symbol of cultural continuity, bridging the gap between Parkersburg’s past and present.

The transformation of this area from a site of one of the city’s most disastrous fires to a thriving cultural centre is reflective of Parkersburg’s spirit. It highlights the city’s capacity for renewal and growth, turning a narrative of loss and destruction into one of hope and rebirth. Today, the Parkersburg Art Center stands not just as a centre for artistic expression, but also as a monument to the city’s resilience, a place where the community can come together to celebrate its cultural heritage and look forward to a future filled with creative possibilities.

The Unseen Chapter: A Legacy of Healing Beyond the Flames

Dr. C.M. Boger, a towering figure in the field of homeopathy and a distinguished member of the Parkersburg community, passed away in 1935. His demise marked the end of an era in homeopathic medicine, leaving behind a legacy of healing and medical innovation. However, the trail of his professional journey, particularly concerning his clinic office after the devastating fire of 1929, fades into obscurity in the annals of history. The literature remains silent on the fate of his practice post the fire, leaving us to piece together this part of his life’s puzzle through conjecture and informed assumptions.

It is plausible that Dr. Boger, resilient and dedicated to his profession, might have continued his medical practice from his home following the fire. His residence, situated in Dudleyville, north of 19th street in Parkersburg, West Virginia, could have served as a sanctuary for his medical practice. This location, not far from the original site of his clinic, would have been a convenient and familiar space for Dr. Boger to continue his work.

The exact details of Dr. Boger’s professional life post the fire might remain elusive, but what is indelible is the impact he left on the field of homeopathy and on the lives of those he treated. His contributions to medical literature and practice continue to be revered and studied, keeping his spirit and legacy alive in the world of homeopathy.

As the story of Dr. Boger’s clinic concludes, it leaves us with a sense of admiration for a man who dedicated his life to the pursuit of healing. His journey, from the clinic on Seventh Street to his home in Dudleyville, is a narrative of resilience, adaptation, and unwavering dedication to the service of others.

In remembering Dr. Boger, we celebrate not just a medical practitioner, but a pillar of the Parkersburg community, whose legacy continues to inspire and influence long after his passing.

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4 thoughts on “30th November 1929 – The Parkersburg Fire and the Legacy of Dr. C.M. Boger”

    • Dear Doctor Saheb,

      Thank you very much for your kind words and appreciation. I’m delighted to know that you found the article on the Parkersburg Fire of 1929 and Dr. C.M. Boger’s legacy informative and engaging. It’s always encouraging to receive feedback from esteemed colleagues in the homeopathic community.

      This historical event not only shaped the physical landscape of Parkersburg but also left an indelible mark on the practice and progression of homeopathy in the region, particularly through the contributions of Dr. Boger.

      If you have any insights or additional information related to this event or Dr. Boger’s work, I would be very interested to hear them. Collaborative sharing of knowledge helps us all to deepen our understanding of homeopathy’s rich history.

      Thank you once again for your encouraging comment.

      Warm regards,
      Dr. Anil Singhal

      Reply
    • Dear Dr. Nidhi Arora,

      Thank you for your kind words. It is heartening to see your enthusiasm and appreciation for the historical account of the Parkersburg Fire and Dr. C.M. Boger’s legacy. Sharing this piece of history, especially one that intertwines the development of homeopathy with significant local events, is a passion close to my heart.

      I believe that understanding our history enriches our practice and perspective in homeopathy. Dr. Boger’s resilience and dedication in the face of adversity are a testament to the enduring spirit of healthcare professionals. His legacy is not just in the treatments he devised or the patients he healed, but also in the inspiration he continues to provide to us, the current generation of homeopaths.

      I encourage you to delve deeper into our rich history, to uncover the stories and lessons that can guide and inspire us in our practice today. If you have any thoughts or experiences in your journey with homeopathy that you’d like to share, I would love to hear them. Together, we can continue to learn, grow, and keep the legacy of great practitioners like Dr. Boger alive.

      Warm regards,
      Dr. Anil Singhal

      Reply

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