The Story of the Review and Herald Fire

From private letters and other sources the author reconstructs the story of the Review and Herald fire and the subsequent move of the publishing house to Washington, D.C.

On December 30, 1902, the Review and Herald Publishing House burned to the ground. This was the second major fire that year for an Adventist institution in Battle Creek, Michigan—the first being the Battle Creek Sanitarium on February 18, 1902. Below is a fairly lengthy account of the Review fire by Arthur L. White that appeared in the December 8, 1977, Adventist Review. White was the grandson of James and Ellen White. At the time of publication, Arthur White was serving as the secretary of the Ellen G. White Estate. He passed away in 1991.—Editors.

Tuesday evening, December 30, 1902, began quietly and peacefully in Battle Creek. Though it was winter, no snow was on the ground. Most of the 300 employees (see Supplement to Review and Herald, April 28, 1903) of the Review and Herald publishing house had left their machines and editorial offices for the day. A few workers had come in for the night shift. A.G. Daniells, 44, the newly elected leader of the General Conference, was still in his office on the second floor of the West Building, just across Washington Street. A little after six o’clock, I. H. Evans, 41, president and general manager of the Review and Herald Publishing Company, and E. R. Palmer, 33, administrative assistant to Daniells, had met with him to look over some new tracts in preparation. At seven-thirty Palmer left, and Daniells and Evans continued chatting.

It had been a good year financially for the Review and Herald—one of the most prosperous with the promise of a large profit. There were bright prospects for a busy 1903, just two days away (ibid.).

The “Tabernacle” bell rang, summoning the faithful to prayer meeting. Then the electric lights went out. Daniells stepped over to the window and saw the street lit up and flames coming from the publishing house.

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