LaSalle Hotel Fire

Privacy Level: Public (Green)
Date: 4 Jun 1946 [unknown]
Location: Chicago, Illinoismap
Surnames/tags: Disasters Fires
This page has been accessed 83 times.


LaSalle Hotel Fire, June 5, 1946

Hotel History

The LaSalle Hotel was a 23-story luxury hotel constructed during 1908 and 1909 in Chicago, Illinois. The hotel was located at the intersection of La Salle and Madison Streets in the Chicago Loop section of town.

Details on the hotel's construction vary by source, so its construction costs are in the 2.5 to 6 million dollar range. It contained over 1000 rooms and was 22 or 23 stories tall.

The hotel had been first been owned by the Ernest J. Stevens family, a Chicago lawyer and hotelier (and father of Supreme Court associate justice John Paul Stevens). The family lost the property during the financial collapse of the Great Depression. It was later purchased by LaSalle-Madison company for $337,00 and back taxes of about $1 million dollars.

In 1940, the hotel was leased by The Roanoke Hotel Corporation, whose president was former Olympian and Chicago businessman Avery Brundage. [1][2] Roanoke purchased the hotel outright in 1942.[3] Mr. Brundage went on to become the President of the International Olympic Committee while he lived at the LaSalle.


Surname Given Names Age, 1946 Residence, 1946 Casualty? Other
Adams Eldon 17 Newton, Iowa Yes N/A
Adelson Nathan N/A Chicago Yes N/A
Barton Joseph Sam "Joe" 17 Newton, Iowa Yes N/A
Beaty Duane N/A San Antonio, Texas Yes N/A
Boyer Douglas age St. Louis, Missouri Yes Other
Denniston William age Minneapolis, Minnesota Yes Other
Willmann Robert Ellwood 23 US Navy Yes Wife also died
Schmitthenner August Frederick 49 India Yes Was at hotel attending
a conference
Hudleson Hugh W. 36 Wisconsin Yes Was on temporary duty in Chicago
Miller Marshall 20 Springfield, Illinois No, was in a coma for a month At the hotel to meet his father after
his Navy discharge
Miller Henry G Springfield, Illinois Yes father of Marshall Miller
Swern Perry 57 Oak Park, Illinois Yes Architect


Surname Given Names Age, 1946 Birthplace Heroic Action Status
Might Robert I. 20 Flint, Michigan Saved at least 20
in upper floors
treated for injuries
Boris Walter Carried persons
from 3rd floor
Was a city employee
Malek Vincent 41 Illinois Climbed up to hotel
Madison St. marquee
Fire Captain
Traska Bernard Carried a disabled war veteran
down the fire escape
US Navy sailor
Glenview Naval Station
Barry Julia 44 Chicago, Illinois Hotel telephone operator
worked to notify guests
Would not leave post; died on scene.
Fawn Seeing Eye dog 7-year-old
German shepherd
Led Anita Blair, 23 and blind,
down the fire escape
Anita and Fawn both escaped injury


The LaSalle Hotel was repaired, renovated, and reopened in June 1947 at a cost of 2 million dollars. Brundage sold the hotel circa 1970.

[4]According to a Chicago Tribune article of June 30, 1976, "Yesterday, at 3 p.m., the building sold and the hotel closed, history was all it had left."[5] The mayor announced that a 25-story luxury office tower would be constructed at the site of the former LaSalle Hotel in 1977. [6]

Profiles of persons associated with this fire are grouped in Lasalle Hotel Fire, Chicago, Illinois, 1946.


  1. Brichford, Maynard (Winter 1998). "Avery Brundage: Chicago Businessman" (PDF). Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society. Springfield, Ill.: Illinois State Historical Society. 91 (4): 218–232. JSTOR 40193288. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 16,
  2. Rhoads, Mark, "Illinois Hall of Fame: Avery Brundage", The Illinois State Society, Website, accessed 28 Feb 2020. archived web link
  3. Chicagology.
  4. "LaSalle Hotel Is Reopened After Destructive Fire," The Daily Dispatch (Moline, Illinois) 30 Jun 1947, p. 1, col. 6. Digital images. (; accessed 28 Feb 2020), Historical newspapers. clipping.
  5. "LaSalle Hotel Closing Breaks Up a 'Family'," The Chicago Tribune 30 Jun 1976, p. 1, col. 2. Digital images., (; accessed 10 Jun 2019). Historical newspapers. link part 1, link part 2
  6. Chicago Tribune clipping, 22 Mar 1977

See also:

  • LaSalle Hotel
  • Grossman, Ron. "Flashback: Fire at the LaSalle Hotel in 1946 exposed safety hazards," The Chicago Tribune, Web. (; accessed 10 Jun 2019). Online newspaper. link to story
  • Chicagology
  • The Times (Streator, Illinois) 05 Jun 1946, Wed Page 1 Accessed through
  • Honolulu Star-Bulletin (Honolulu, Hawaii) 05 Jun 1946, Wed Page 4 Accessed through
  • "A Calm, Blind Girl Follows Dog Out of Fire," The Chicago Tribune, 6 Jun 1946, p. 2, col. 4. DIgital images., (, accessed 20 Jul 2019), Historical newspapers. news clipping.
  • "Two Sailor Heroes Help Rescue Many in La Salle Inferno," The Chicago Tribune, 6 Jun 1946, p. 2, col. 3. DIgital images., (, accessed 20 Jul 2019), Historical newspapers. news clipping


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