The Great Cyclone of 1896


20 minutes of terror  |  255 Killed  |  Lafayette Park in ruins

 
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The “Cracker Castle”. This mansion, built by Jonathan O. Pierce in the 1860s, was nicknamed the Cracker Castle because Pierce's fortune came from part ownership of a business that supplied crackers and hardtack to soldiers during the Civil War. Located at the corner of Chouteau and St. Ange Avenues, it was struck by lightning and one of its towers was hurled away during the terrible tornado. It was damaged beyond repair and was demolished.

This was a saloon and tenement house owned by Frederick Mauchenheimer, located at 7th and Rutger Streets in the Soulard area, one of the locations hit hardest by the tornado. Many people lost their lives at this intersection. In this scene, several men and groups of people pick through the ruins.

Along with Lafayette Square, the Soulard neighborhood sustained the heaviest damage from the tornado. The next day, leading local photographer J. C. Strauss documented much of the damage. People on foot and in horse-drawn vehicles viewed the devastation.

The residential area on Accomac Street between California and Oregon Streets was devastated by the tornado. Some damaged homes stand next to their totally destroyed neighbors. This area is in the Fox Park neighborhood.

The Compton Heights neighborhood, laid out in 1889, was an early planned residential development. Its streets curve gently around landscaped areas in a deliberate change from the traditional grid pattern, and are named for important literary figures. Many of the upper class homes built there lost walls and roofs to the tornado.

Oregon Avenue homes. The extensive damage to these residences indicates that they were located on the north end of Oregon Avenue, probably between Compton Heights to the west and Lafayette Square on the east.

The Compton Heights neighborhood, laid out in 1889, was an early planned residential development. Many of its upper class homes lost walls and roofs to the tornado. One of these homes is that of Dr. Hugo M. Starkloff, physician and father of St. Louis' famous Health Commissioner Dr. Max Starkloff.

Cleanup is underway in this view of 8th and Rutger streets, in the Soulard neighborhood. The tornado did some of its worst damage, with much loss of life, in this area.

The Compton Heights neighborhood, laid out in 1889, was an early planned residential development. This group of homes was all but destroyed by the tornado. The photograph identifies one of these homes as that of Dr. Hugo M. Starkloff, physician and father of St. Louis' famous Health Commissioner Dr. Max Starkloff.

This was a block of damaged apartments, located at Allen and Ohio Avenues, southeast of Lafayette Square.

The tornado did some of its worst damage on Rutger Street between 7th and 8th streets in the northern Soulard neighborhood. Most buildings were destroyed, and many lives were lost. This view of Rutger looking east from 7th Street shows the large crowd that gathered to view the damage and mourn the next day.

This view looking south on 8th Street from Rutger Street shows people wandering through the rubble. The De La Vergne Refrigerating Machine Company on Park Avenue can be seen in the distance.