Historical Highlights

The 1930 Fire Near the Dome of the Capitol

January 03, 1930
The 1930 Fire Near the Dome of the Capitol Image courtesy of Library of Congress Though the 1930 fire drew scores of firemen and many spectators to the Capitol, it was contained in an attic room and caused relatively little damage.
At 7 pm on this date, two Capitol Police officers discovered a fire in the art restoration and modeling room in the Capitol. Located in an attic space near the dome, the fire illuminated the cold night sky. More than 25 fire crews from around the region responded to the fire alarms.The fire was confined to the room used by Carl Moberly, a resident artist at the Capitol. Water and smoke caused $3,000 in damages to a number of federal building models as well as portraits of federal judges which were undergoing restoration. A replica of the Capitol model (the original was at the Seville Exposition in Spain) suffered extensive damage. Moberly was discovered unconscious on the floor of the room by Sidney Mitchell, superintendent of the House document folding room. He was taken to the office of Representative John Garner of Texas and treated by Dr. George W. Calver, the House naval physician and the future Attending Physician of the Capitol. After administering first aid, Dr. Calver evaluated Mr. Moberly and determined he was “in such condition that anything he might say as to the origin of the fire could not be depended upon.” Moberly was transferred to a local hospital. Despite the difficult physical location of the blaze, firemen managed to extinguish it in less than an hour. To add to the chaos, thousands of spectators descended on the Capitol grounds joining a pack of movie newsreel photographers. Throughout the night, the Capitol Police maintained a perimeter around the building to keep crowds away.

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