The Historic Fire at the National Theater
The National Theater in Washington, D.C. has over 200 years of history including presidential inaugural balls, world premieres of landmark American musicals and presidential performances. This building serves as the oldest enterprise on Pennsylvania Avenue. However, these historic and future events were nearly missed due to a devastating fire on March 5, 1845.
The fire is thought to have started in the oil room in the back of the theater while the theater was in performance. Luckily, an alarm was signaled and everyone was able to escape without serious injury. The fire extended down the block catching fire to stables, buildings and several nearby houses. It was almost a complete loss.
In 1850 two local businessmen joined together to manage the restoration and renovation the theater in order to welcome vocal legend Jenny Lind.
Today, the structure is proudly protected by the Washington D.C. Fire Department and has been rebuilt several times, including partial reconstructions after five additional fires in the 19th century.