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J.E. Will & Co. Fire, 1928, Deadliest in Twin City History

On the night of May 7, 1928, a 40-foot-high rear wall of the burned-out J.E. Will & Co. furniture store in downtown Bloomington buckled and collapsed in a shower of bricks and other debris. Two Bloomington firefighters, Walfried Moline and Louis Payton, were instantly killed, while a third, Louis' father Frank Payton, died of injuries three weeks later. Walfried Moline's body was pulled from the debris the following afternoon. Louis Payton's body was not recovered until the evening of May 9, nearly two days after his death.

J.E. Will & Co, 508-512 N. Main St., was part of the city's "furniture row." In the 1920s there were three other locally owned furniture stores on the 500 block—Stern's (seen in this photo), Kirkpatrick's, and Keck's.


Written By

Bill Kemp

Bill Kemp

Bill Kemp is the Librarian at the McLean County Museum of History

Posted in Historic Photos

January 22nd, 2015

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