The Taber Museum held a Coffee Hour on Thursday, November 12, 2020 that featured author Elaine M. Decker, speaking on ‘The Great Fire of 1871’. Decker laid out a compelling story about arson and devastation, all taking place while many of the citizens of Williamsport were attending a a church revival and camp, out of town.
Decker described a scene where two men were seen torching stables owned by C.M. Decker, on Black Horse Alley. Strong winds quickly spread the fire to many homes an businesses in the area of Mulberry, Third and Fourth Streets in Williamsport. More that $300,000 in damage was sustained, most of the loss uninsured. Some of the owners rebuilt, only to be faced with the flood of 1889, again destroying their property. Today, much of the area is grass or parking lots.
Elaine Decker is the author of Williamsport: Past and Present The before and after photographs depict the changing landscape of the city of Williamsport.
Forty-two guests attended the lecture, including a reporter from the Williamsport Sun-Gazette, who wrote a full page article about the lecture (see, above).
The Lecture Series is supported by a generous grant from the Woodcock Foundation for the Appreciation of the Arts. It normally consists of fourteen lectures, combining Thursday morning Coffee Hours (at 10am) March-June, September-December, and Sunday afternoon Society Programs (at 2pm) May through October. COVID-19 has certainly interrupted the normal schedule.