The inferno caused the roof to collapse and the flames shot “several hundred feet above the monster building, a fearfully grand spectacle, and the whole city was illuminated as if by sunlight.”
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“Our beautiful Opera House is gone,” reported the Dayton Journal. “It burned early Sunday morning while the world was asleep. Nothing is left of it but shapely ruins – almost classic in their sadly graceful proportions- the ragged monument to an accident.”
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The fire spread to adjoining buildings, including a grocery store where Herman Sandmeier was attempting to save goods. A wall collapsed and the grocer was pinned by a falling timber. Despite an attempt at rescue, Sandmeier died in the fire.
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The front façade of the building was the only portion of the building saved. The loss was estimated at $550,000.
Almost 50 years and four name changes later, the Victoria Theatre caught fire again.
A fire started in the ushers’ room, according to the Ronalds’ book, and a dozen fire companies rushed to try and save the structure.
This time the building was not a total loss, a third floor dance floor and second floor apartments were in good shape, but the theater was destroyed.
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Restrictions during wartime delayed rebuilding the theater, but on Nov. 25, 1919, a grand opening was held for the Victory Theater, re-named to honor those who had fought and died in World War I.