Columbia Hotel

Also known as:  Palace Hotel


Columbia Hotel, Digital Horizons 1
Columbia Hotel, Digital Horizons 2

Gas Explosion Wrecks a Hotel.  Two-Story Building at Grand Forks in Ruins – One Person Fatally Injured.  Special to The Journal.  Grand Forks, N. D., Dec. 27. – The Columbia hotel, a two-story building opposite the Great Northern passenger station, used for a hotel, restaurant and grocery store, was wrecked at 11:15 a.m. today by the explosion of an acetylene plant in the rear of the building.  No lights were burning and the cause of the explosion is a mystery.  The entire front of the building for a distance of seventy-five feet was blown out, the brick walls between several departments crumbled and the roof was blown off.  A porter named Carvel was in the room with the machine at the time of the explosion and was picked up fifty feet away in an unconscious condition and taken to a hospital.  He is probably fatally injured.  It is thought he must have struck a match near the gas machine.  James Ham, a clerk, and Mary Finn, a waitress, were seriously injured by flying glass, but neither dangerously.  The building and business was owned by Oscar Knutson, who is out of town.  (The Minneapolis Journal, Tuesday Evening, December 27, 1904, Page 2)

GAS EXPLOSION.  Demolished a Building and Caused Injury of Several.  Portion of the Columbia Hotel Was Badly Wrecked and A. L. Carvell Was Seriously Injured – Several Buildings in Vicinity Damaged – Damage to Hotel Over $1,000.  As a result of an explosion of acetylene gas in the Columbia hotel on DeMers avenue yesterday the frame office portion of the hotel and the washroom were completely wrecked.  A. R. Carvell, the porter, received injuries which may prove fatal.  Mary Finn, Mary Donberg and James Hamm received painful injuries, and Nels Buck was struck by a storm window and received slight injuries.  Carvell was taken to the Deaconess hospital at once and last night it was stated that he would probably recover.  His face is badly burned, his collar bone is broken and his back is hurt.  Miss Finn, who was also employed in the hotel, was taken to the hospital, where it was found that her injuries were not serious.  The others who received injuries were attended by physicians and were able to be around shortly after the accident.  The force of the explosion was terrific and was felt for blocks away.  Windows in the Great Northern depot, opposite the hotel, were shattered, as well as in the Palace hotel and in other buildings farther away.  A brick wall between the office and candy store was badly damaged.  The acetylene plant was located back of the washroom and office.  It seems that it had not been working very well and repairs were being made on it at the time of the explosion.  The porter noticed a short time before that the fluid was escaping from the boiler and he called Hamm into the room from the cigar store to see what he thought of it.  The escaping acetylene was flowing in the direction of a stove and it is supposed that it became ignited from this source.  Hamm was working on the plant when the explosion occurred.  He was thrown to the floor and escaped with a few burns.  Carvell was blown through the front of the building.  Misses Donberg and Finn were injured by the overturning of a coffee boiler.  Landlord Knudtson [Knudson] was visiting near Mallory.  He was notified of the accident and returned yesterday afternoon.  He estimates his loss at from $1,000 to $1,500 and this will be total, as there was no insurance against damage from an acetylene explosion.  The building did not catch on fire.  The acetylene plant was not injured.  Mr. Knudtson is using another portion of the hotel temporarily as an office and will continue to do business as usual.  (Grand Forks Daily Herald, Wednesday Morning, December 28, 1904, Volume 24, Number 50, Page 8).

WILL REBUILD AT ONCE.  Carpenters Will Begin Work Today on Columbia.  Landlord Knudtson has decided to lose no time in rebuilding the portion of his hotel damaged by the explosion Tuesday forenoon.  This morning brick masons and carpenters will be put to work rebuilding the structure and it will soon be ready for occupancy.  Mr. Knudtson expressed himself yesterday as glad that no lives were lost and considers it remarkable that no one was killed.  (Grand Forks Daily Herald, Thursday Morning, December 29, 1904, Volume 24, Number 51, Page 8).


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