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Centennial Symposium Planned to Mark Great Salem Fire of 1914

The Symposium will be held June 20 and 21.

Lafayette Street, looking toward the city, after fire June 25, 1914.
Lafayette Street, looking toward the city, after fire June 25, 1914.

To mark the 100th anniversary of the Great Salem Fire of 1914, Salem State University and Historic Salem, Inc. will hold a two-day symposium "Conflagration!" on June 20 and 21.

The symposium, which will be held on campus, will include presentations and walking tours recounting the cataclysmic events that destroyed more than 250 acres and 1,376 buildings. 

Local Salem residents and scholars affiliated with Salem institutions - Salem State University, the National Park Service, the Peabody Essex Museum, the Salem Athenaeum and Historic New England - have collaborated to develop this symposium to commemorate this historic Salem event.

Featured will be nationally known keynote speaker, Bruce Hensley, author of Crucible of Fire: Nineteenth-century Urban Fires and the Making of the Modern Fire Service, and five scholars in the community who have done extensive research on the subject.

Over two days, participants will learn of the relief effort that provided shelter, food and clothing to 18,000 people who were left homeless and 10,000 without jobs, as well as the massive reconstruction process that actually enhanced the city and resulted in accolades from around the country.

Designed to foster awareness among attendees of Salem's rich social, cultural and architectural history.  It will commemorate an event that revealed the courage of Salem's citizenry and greatly influenced the 20th-century development of our local community.

The Symposium is one of several events planned to commemorate the Great Salem Fire. Complete commemoration information can be found at Salem.org/SalemFire.  Images and brochures from the fire can be found in the online Digital Commons of Salem State University.  

For more information and to register for the Symposium, visit salemstate.edu/salemfire or call 978.542.7757. This conference is co-sponsored by Historic Salem, Inc. and Salem State University with generous additional support from Beverly Bank and Salem Five.

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