Since 1877 Pope Manufacturing Co. had their main offices located in Boston
Massachusetts. At this location were salesmen, warehousing for bicycles and parts destined for shipment and a "Riding
On Thursday, March 12th 1896, about 3:30pm a fire broke out in the basement of the Pope
offices on Columbus Avenue in the South End of Boston. This was a brick structure that was 6 stories high including the basement
and thought to be fire proof or a least fire resistant. The fire spread quickly and soon salesmen on the first floor smelled
smoke and turned in the alarm. Most occupants including sales staff and those in the riding school on the 5th floor were able
The fire department arrived quickly. The remaining people inside were rescued by ladder
but the firemen could not contain the blaze. By 4:08pm it had become a 5 alarm fire. Linemen were called to cut power to the
building and two of them were hurt when they received shocks during their efforts. These would be the only serious
injuries to result from this inferno. The fire would finally be under controll by late afternoon and declared out by 11:30pm.
Through all of this Col. Pope showed the kind of business man he was. During the fire he was actively securing
rent of a store on Boylston St. and by 5:00pm, before the fire was out had announced that Pope Mfg. would be opened for business
the following day. Col. Pope had also wired the factory in Hartford to have 300 bicycles sent to Boston for the next day.
Damage reports ranged from $125,000 to $275,000. Either way it was big money for 1896. There were approximately
1,700 bicycles stored on the first three floors, 5,000 tires on the fourth floor and 175 second hand bicycles used in
the riding school on the fifth floor. All of this and most records were lost. Reports show some important business records
being saved by quick thinking salesmen. To Col. Pope the most devastating loss was to some of his artifacts saved from his
Civil War service.
The following year a new structure was built on the same location, this time seven stories
tall. This new facility would serve Pope for several years to come.
The following images of the fire are from a period Boston newspaper.