An Interesting Baptist Hospital Ad After the Russwood Park Fire

image courtesy Architectural Record / eBay

In our April issue, I told you the story of the 1960 Russwood Park fire, one of the worst blazes in our city's history, and included never-before-seen color images of the damage up and down Madison Avenue the following morning.

The fire took consumed the old baseball stadium place right across the street from Baptist Hospital. And even though news photographs showed flames practically washing over the building, except for a few cracked windows, the hospital suffered little significant damage, and not a single patient was injured. We can thank the hard-working hospital staff for that — they evacuated hundreds of patients from the most dangerous areas — and certainly the quick work of the firefighters, but apparently some of that credit also goes to the special windows recently installed in the new building.

In fact, a few months later, the September 1960 issue of Architectural Record carried a full-page ad from the Adams & Westlake Company, the Elkhart, Indiana, firm that produced all those "Adlake" windows in the hospital. As you can see, the ad carried a terrific (or horrifying, depending I guess on your point of view) of the fire. Here's what the had to say about their windows:

"Lashed by 25 m.p.h. winds, flames from the Memphis stadium towered like a giant blazing tongue above the roof of the Baptist Memorial Hospital ... licked hungrily at its face and the Adlake double-hung aluminum windows. For more than half an hour, temperatures stood at Fahrenheit 1200 plus, the melting point of aluminum. Yet, no Adlake windows gave way. Frames retained their square ... weatherstrips their seal — thanks to Adlake's built-in safety of quality. "Without those windows, we would have had a bad situation," firefighters agreed. Officials credited Adlake double-glazed windows with having "saved the life of the hospital" not to mention human lives that may well have been spared. Write for a 36-page catalog of non-residential aluminum windows and curtain walls."

Hmmm. A "giant blazing tongue"? And even though I've read many accounts of this fire, and I don't remember seeing any of those exact quotes from agreeable firefighters or the anonymous "officials." Even so, it's true that the windows did play a role in keeping the flames, heat, and smoke out of the hospital, so we'll give the copywriters some leeway here.

In case you're wondering, this ad was recently listed on eBay. Somebody in Milwaukee had cut it out of the old magazine and offered it for sale — a bargain at $10 (yes, it apparently sold). Many thanks to my pals Joe Lowry and Skip Howard for bringing it to my attention.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

Miss McKellar Lake 1974

Hard to believe, but women from around the Mid-South once competed for this illustrious title.
2015.08.26 01:51 PM

Remember the Alamo, but let’s not forget another one of Summer Avenue’s funky motels.

Not as architecturally significant as the Alamo Plaza, the Silver Horse Shoe was another Summer Avenue motel landmark for decades. And don’t forget the crazy-looking diner next door!
2014.10.21 08:39 PM

Rare Photo: Gladys Presley's Original Gravesite at Forest Hill Cemetery — Mother of Elvis Presley

2012.11.18 08:47 PM
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Stories

Meet the WREC-TV News Team from the 1960s

A posed studio photograph shows the WREC-TV news team from the 1960s. Most readers recognize a few faces, but the others are — so far — a mystery.
2015.08.30 07:34 PM

Miss McKellar Lake 1974

Hard to believe, but women from around the Mid-South once competed for this illustrious title.
2015.08.26 01:51 PM

Lost Memphis: The Linden Circle Theatre

Here’s how it looked in the 1940s. I don’t even want to show you how the same building — yep, it’s still there — looks today.
2015.08.18 12:04 PM

Add your comment:
Edit Module

Buy the Ask Vance Books

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Famed Memphis trivia expert Vance Lauderdale answers reader questions weekly here on his blog!

About This Blog

Ask Vance is the blog of Vance Lauderdale, the award-winning columnist of Memphis magazine and Inside Memphis Business. Vance is the author of three books: Ask Vance: The Best Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History and Trivia Expert (2003), as well as Ask Vance: More Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History Expert (2011) and Vance Lauderdale's Lost Memphis (2013). He is also the recipient of quite a few nice awards, the creator of several eye-catching wall calendars, and the only person we know with a vintage shock-treatment machine in his den. 

You can find him from time to time in the pages of the Memphis Flyer and MBQ, on WKNO television, and on Facebook. When he is not exploring the highways and byways of Memphis, he spends his time sleeping, napping, and dozing.

Got a question for Vance?  Email him here.

Find Vance's old blog posts (pre-April 2011) and comments here.

Be Vance's friend on Facebook:

Recent Posts



Atom Feed Subscribe to the Ask Vance Feed »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags