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Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire

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LHelton View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote LHelton Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire
    Posted: 11 Nov 2008 at 9:12pm
Timeline:
 
1937: The original Beverly Hills nightclub is built by Pete Schmidt on a 17-acre site along the west side of U.S. 27 in Southgate.

1961: After changing hands several times over the years, the club shuts down.

Oct. 11, 1969: The Beverly Hills reopens briefly under the ownership of two Atlanta-based partners.

Dec. 30, 1969: The club, closed shortly after its reopening, is deeded to the Schilling family, who plan to renovate and expand it.

April 1970: The Schillings obtain a building permit for a $170,000 remodeling.

June 21, 1970: A predawn fire destroys much of the unoccupied structure, still under construction. A state arson investigation will prove inconclusive.

Feb. 10, 1971: The new Beverly Hills Supper Club opens to the public.

Feb. 26, 1971: The Enquirer reports that the club reopened ''without remedying 10 major safety defects outlined by the state,'' including flaws involving stairway enclosures and exits. The article says the state did not conduct a final inspection at the site and that the state fire marshal had not approved the club for occupancy. Officials in Kentucky play down the controversy, saying they have been assured all hazards have been corrected.

July 8, 1974: The Schillings apply for a building permit to add a larger showroom.

Aug. 10, 1974: A small fire, apparently caused by a short circuit, breaks out in the club's main electrical control panel. The flames are put out with an extinguisher. An insurance claim puts damage at $1,635.

Nov. 11, 1974: The new showroom, the Cabaret Room, opens to the public.

1975: Construction on the Zebra Room, designed to accommodate smaller parties, is completed.

1976: Construction on the Garden Room is completed.

Jan. 27, 1977: A state-ordered fire inspection concludes that ''in case of emergency, evacuation should be no problem with existing exits.''

May 28, 1977: Fire destroys the supper club.

May 29, 1977: The bodies of 26 more victims are removed from the Cabaret Room.

June 1, 1977: Two bodies are discovered in the Viennese Room.

June 2, 1977: A patron, injured in the fire, sues for damages in federal court, the first such suit to be filed. By 1985, the settlement to victims will reach $30 million.

June 25, 1977: Patricia Brown, 40, of Lexington, Ky., dies of injuries suffered in the fire, bringing the death toll to 163. Her husband was among the dead.

July 2, 1977: Clarence Gripshover, 48, of Covington dies of injuries, bringing the death toll to 164. Three couples he had accompanied to the club were among the dead.

July 13, 1977: A report by State Trooper Kenneth Wood said ''all the physical evidence'' pointed to a hidden fire in the Zebra Room and the ''only source'' of ignition would have been electrical.

July 18, 1977: State Police Det. Sgt. James A. Perry reports that some exits had appeared to have been illegally locked.

Sept. 16, 1977: Gov. Julian Carroll's special task force files a report calling the Beverly Hills building ''an electrician's nightmare'' and concludes that ''the only participants in the tragedy who were clearly ignorant of the latent danger hidden behind walls and within concealed spaces were the patron-victim.'' Structural problems, the report said, included substandard wiring, flammable building materials and a shortage of exits. It said that ''many of these code violations were known by the insurer, the operators and owners, and were noted as concerns as a matter of record in the fire marshal's office.'' Other problems it identified included ''gross overcrowding'' and ''myopic'' inspection efforts. The task force found it ''baffling'' how the state fire marshal's staff failed to communicate adequately with the state Insurance Services Office that repeatedly inspected Beverly Hills during the 1970s and reported fire hazards.

Sept. 19, 1977: Gov. Julian Carroll condemns ''a shocking amount of complete and total disregard by the owners of Beverly Hills for the safety of the patrons.'' He predicts indictments.

Feb. 23, 1978: A special grand jury is impaneled to investigate whether crimes were committed in connection with the fire. During the coming months, dozens of witnesses testify and hundreds more written statements are submitted.

March 1, 1978: Barbara Thornhill, 35, of Delhi Township dies at Cincinnati General Hospital, the 165th and final fatality attributed to the fire. The death toll included her husband, his two sisters and his pregnant sister-in-law.

Aug. 2, 1978: The grand jury concludes that neither criminal negligence nor structural problems were responsible for the deaths. The jury report blames the victims' ''panic'' and notes that Cabaret Room patrons, ''even though notified to evacuate, failed to react and remained seated until the conditions of the room itself indicated the need to exit. By this time in some instances it was too late.''

February 1979: A special prosecutor concludes that ''nothing is to be gained from additional efforts to pursue criminal prosecution in connection with the fire.''

1980: Civil suits against the club owners are settled out of court.

Oct. 18, 1986: An appellate court rules that the state fire marshal's office has no liability to victims.

2004:  My brother-in-law and I obtained permission to visit the site twice this year, took photos, and collected artifacts for a display.  There is alot of items and rubble still there.  The larger things to see:  the lone fire hydrant, the curb, driveway light posts, top of gas stove, safe, flooring, and a scorched hedge that looks like it had just been trimmed.   The rubble: roofing, plastic, wire, stone, glass, tile, pea gravel in the garden area, some rotting wood from outside structures.  The small items we found: charred cloth, charred wallpaper, broken dishes, fork, metal dessert bowls/cups, pieces of chandeliers, lamp pieces, stove knob, pieces of the infamous aluminum wire, and fuse box pieces.  There are also two large crosses erected upon the hillside.  Half of the driveway is grown over with brush and a gate blocks motor vehicle travel.  A medical center sits below the hillside.  A Methodist group called Twin Towers owns the property and wanted to build a retirement community there.  The Southgate community, many survivors, and family members wish for a memorial to be placed there and nothing else. 

2008:  Investigation may resume.   
 
Larry Helton - Historical Society of Madison Twp.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote LHelton Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Nov 2008 at 9:25pm
There were 165 people who lost their lives at the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire on the night of May 28, 1977.  Listed are the ones from our area.
 
Grace Louise Fall, 48,
Jacksonburg, Ohio, Wayne School secretary
 
Mable Marie Barker, 54,
Trenton, Ohio, Wayne School secretary

 
Martin Herschel Barker, 60,
Trenton, Ohio, machinist, Armco Steel Corp.
 
Collis William Mitchell, 50,
Wayne Township, Ohio, contract negotiator
 
Ann Louise Beer, 23,
Hamilton, Ohio, Trenton schools librarian

 
Harold R. Penwell Jr., 28,
Wayne Township, Ohio, psychological services, Veterans Administration Center
 
Barbara J. Hous, 51,
Madison Township, Ohio, public school secretary

 
Mary Louise Ittel, 58,
Hamilton, Ohio, homemaker, Edgewood superintendent's wife
 
Fred E. Wade, 61,
Wayne Township, Ohio, machinist, Link Tool

 
Martha Elinor Wade, 61,
Wayne Township, Ohio, homemaker
 
Lucy Mae King 57,
Hamilton, Ohio, guidance counselor, Edgewood High School

 
Carol Ann Cottongim, 32,
Hamilton, Ohio, teacher
 
Robert Douglas Cottongim, 34,
Hamilton, Ohio, supervisor, Mercy Hospital

 
Minnie J. Knight, 70,
Germantown, Ohio, assembly worker, Defense Electronics Supply Center
 
Donald Eugene Koontz, 48,
Hamilton, Ohio, agent, McCoy Oil Co.
 
Dorothy Maxine Koontz, 46,
Hamilton, Ohio, instructional aide, Edgewood High School
 
Gloria Sue Duncil, 36,
Hamilton, Ohio, school teacher
 
Larry Helton - Historical Society of Madison Twp.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote dvisuals Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Nov 2008 at 10:20pm
I went Edgewood High School 1974-75. I knew Ms. King, she was my counselor.  We moved to Edgewood in my high school year and she was very nice to me, helped me with my schedule and got me into D Russel Lee, 1975-76 (now Butler Tech).   Very Very Sad. Kids lost both parents to that fire. I remember that the most.  I see 4 sets of parents listed.  

2008 - Investigation is on.  I really haven't paid much attention, but I see on the TV news they are re-investigating.  Sort of like a Cold Case?
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Post Options Post Options   Quote cyclist4ever Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Nov 2008 at 6:58am
I was in Kindergarten at Wayne School in Jacksonburg when this tragedy occured.  I barely remember the details but Mrs. Kootz worked in the kindergarten room and Mrs. Fall drove me home on the bus in the afternoon.  
Valerie Jones
"Ride a bike, ride a bike, ride a bike" ~Fausto Coppi
"Besides pride, loyalty, discipline, heart and mind, CONFIDENCE is the key to all the locks. ~Joe Paterno
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Post Options Post Options   Quote LHelton Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 May 2017 at 9:52pm
Sunday marks the 40th Anniversary of this tragedy. We lost several from the Trenton and Edgewood School community that night who were attending a retirement party there, including the superintendent's wife, the high school counselor, and both parents of one girl who I attended school with. I have been to the site twice in recent years. 165 lives lost that night. A sad rememberance.

http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/years-ago-one-the-country-most-disastrous-club-fires-killed-dozens-from-the-miami-valley/IU4KFfa3VxAWM4RfDax37N/
Larry Helton - Historical Society of Madison Twp.
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