Recollection: When the tornado destroyed the east

On July 20, 1950, the day after the tornado struck Lima, Lima News recalled a previous memorable storm.

“On the hot and humid Saturday afternoon of September 24, 1898, the townspeople were surprised by the distant roar,” the news wrote. “The skis went dark for a moment, and it looked like two large funnel-shaped clouds rushing north had exploded. The tornado path was characterized by whitish gray swirling cloud-like streaks. rice field.”

The storm stripped many roofs and sent the Statue of Liberty down the street from the roof of the courthouse as pedestrians scrambled for a cover. Strong winds also tore most of the third floor, removing the big bell from the cupola of the East School Building, one of the first brick buildings in Lima, built in 1871. The bell plunged into the basement, carrying a desk and other debris.

The first two floors of the East Building on East North and North Pine Roads were used as elementary schools, and the third floor was the only high school in the city. The other elementary schools in 1898 were in Westville on West High Street, and Elizabeth Street School was on Vine Street and Elizabeth Street.

After the storm, elementary school students in the East Building were temporarily set up in houses and buildings east of Main Street. Many also attended Allen Courthouse classes. The elementary school was eventually replaced by the Garfield School, which was on the grounds of an old eastern building.

Meanwhile, high school students transferred to Lima College on North Jameson Avenue and Rice Avenue for the rest of the school year, and moved to the three-story Holland Block on Main Street and High Street the following fall. The new Lima High School, eventually known as Central, was completed in 1904 and the first class graduated in June 1905.

In June 1922, Simon Steffens, principal of the high school in 1898, donated a clock recovered from the wreckage of an eastern building to the Allen County Historical Society.

The old East School had a clock system driven by one of the first programmed clocks made. The watch was saved from destruction by Simon Stephens and handed over to the Allen County Historical Society in June 1922.

The interior of the East School can be seen at the Shuraba after the storm on September 24, 1898.

Contact Greg Hoersten at

Recollection: When the tornado destroyed the east

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