|Historic Marker on Main Street, Winchester. Author's collection.|
At 7:45 pm on that fateful night one century ago, twelve perished under fallen debris from a collapsing wall.
|Main Street Winchester, looking north. The Pastime is near the center of the photo on the left (west) side of the street. Main Street Winchester collection.|
Just three years after the theater opened, its operation was transferred to Vic Bloomfield who took a 17-year lease on the building. By May of 1915, the theater had been remodeled, overhauled, and expanded to its final seating capacity by extending the front of the auditorium some twenty-five feet. That extension was a single story in height, unlike the remaining parts of the theater.
Featured Film: The Silent ManIt was toward the end of the evening's first showing of The Silent Man that the tragedy occurred. The silent film was released on November 26, 1917, and was directed, produced, and starred William S. Hart.
Hart plays the role of a gold prospector ('Silent' Budd Marr) who arrives in a town where he promptly is relieved of his treasure; Marr then goes about trying to recover his wealth.
Although portions of the movie were subject to censorship boards across the country, the full feature film can now be watched on YouTube:
|Interior of Pastime Theater, post-collapse. Source.|
The VictimsTwelve souls perished in the tragedy; the vast majority were children with their high percentage on account of their being predominately seated under the single-story addition which took the brunt of the damage from the collapsing wall.
|Memorial Plaque to the Victims, dedicated in 2013. |
Houston Noel, 21.
Coleman Aldridge, 16.
Jesse Adams, 18.
Tommy Thomas, 12.
Rosie Azar, 16.
Andy Henry, 10.
Everett Shindleblower, 33.
Houston Frisbee, 10.
Georgie Frisbee, 8.
Russell Smith, 12.
Robert Baber, 33.
Houston and Georgie Frisbee, brothers, sons of Colonel Frisbee, are buried side by side at the Winchester Cemetery. The Frisbee Boys are noted on the cemetery's walking tour.
|George and Houston Frisbee, ages 10 and 8. |
Roberta Newell collection.
Tommy's sister, Helen Thomas, was a senior White House correspondent for decades. Helen was born in 1920, two years after the tragedy that took her brother's life.
One young man, however, was not among the victims. George "Shanty" Gartland's father, who warned city officials of the swaying brick wall, wouldn't let his son George attend the Pastime that evening because he did not feel it safe.
A plaque remembering the names of the victims, pictured above, was dedicated in 2013. The final line on the plaque is a reminder to us all.
Let Us Never Forget