On December 8th, 1922 a devastating fire ripped through downtown Astoria, Oregon, leveling most of the city.
While the fires raged around his newly-completed two-story auto showroom, Sherman Lovell climbed the stairs to the roof of the Lovell Building. In the streets below, desperate citizens and volunteer firefighters were blowing up buildings in the fire’s path to create a break and stop the spread of the flames.
Weeks before, Mr. Lovell’s secretary had committed a classic secretarial blunder by ordering a pallet of fire extinguishers instead of a case. Everyone knows how confusing those forms can be. Due to this fateful and fortuitous mistake Mr. Lovell, armed with a shotgun and a massive amount of fire extinguishers, spent the long hours before dawn putting out spot fires on the roof and ensuring that no one had any excuse to blow up his new showroom.
Because of these heroic (and ridiculous) actions, the Lovell Building survived the fire. Vendors and business owners who had lost their storefronts set up stalls in the empty showroom. The Lovell Building was for many years the center of the community as Astoria was rebuilt from the ground up, a bastion of hope and strength in a devastated landscape, a symbol of the unity and resilience of Astoria and its citizens.
The building remained an auto showroom and repair shop until the 1990s when it was left vacant and fell into disrepair. In 2007, Fort George Brewery began transforming the Lovell Building back into a gathering place for the community. Over the last decade, Fort George’s Lovell Showroom has hosted countless community events, lecture series, weddings, retirement parties, beer festivals, concerts, meetings, writing groups, and hundreds of barrels of beer destined for bottles and kegs.
Speaking after the disaster, Mayor James Bremmer had this to say, “We’ve got no town left, but we’ve still got the best harbor on the Pacific coast. We will start rebuilding at once on the old site.”
And they did.
Exactly 100 years later, you can join us in the Lovell Showroom on Thursday, December 8th for a special Panel of Astoria’s history & fire experts to commemorate that fateful day.
This talk is presented in partnership with the Columbia Forum.
Astoria Fire Department – Fire ignition, spread, and firefighting
Jessamyn West, ADHDA – The aftermath and rebuilding of downtown
Chelsea Vaughn, Heritage Museum Curator – The fire as a historic event, impact on Astorians, and media reports
Jamie Lump, LCPS – The scope of the fire (walking tour map) and the change in historic architecture and buildings
Doors to the Lovell Showroom open at 6pm with food & beverages via the Taproom window.
We’re proud to be releasing 1922, a Smoked Helles Lager and exclusive Taproom food specials for the event. All ages welcome & never a cover.