Frank Hardy Made My Photographs Two

Twelfth Avenue Fire …

with 4 comments

12 Ave Looking South _ 1956_6x4_3 Jan 14_ SFW

On Sunday August 17, 1975, a fire destroyed this entire block. It was a Sunday morning around 11:00 when it started in the freezer of Exotic Florist.  There was an electrical short in the wiring of the freezer that held Exotic’s flowers.  This building was built sometime in the early 1950’s and the building code did not require fire walls between the offices … since there was no fire wall, all of the units shared a common attic.  Once the fire got into the attic, it was just a short time until all of the businesses where consumed in fire.  My father happened to be there at the time and was able to grab a few cameras and save them, but everything else in his studio was completely destroyed.  The following is a photographic story of the fire, the aftermath and the rebuilding of the block.  There are a lot of photos and they really need no explanation, so I won’t bother you with any …

Fire 2 _ RTP _ SFW

Fire 2 _ RTP _ 5 Mar 15 _ SFW

Fire _Looking South_RTP _SFW

Fire Crowd  _ RTP _ SFW

Start of Fire _ RTP _ SFW

Studio Fire 3 _ RTP_12 Nov 14 _ SFW

Studio Fire 18  _ RTP _SFW Add MediaStudio on Fire _ RTP _ SFW

Studio Fire  2  _ RTP  _ SFW

Studio Fire  20  _ RTP  _ SFW

Studio in Smoke _ RTP _ SFW

Studio After Fire Put Out _ RTP_ SFW

Fire Out _ RTP _ Best _ SFW

Studio Burned Out _ RTP _ SFW

Studio Fire  9  _ RTP   _ SFW

Studio Fire 1 _ BW _ RTP_SFW

I tried to enter the photographs in some type of sequence starting down at Exotic Florist and then moving north up 12th Avenue through the rest of the businesses.  The entire fire from start to finish only took an hour or so.  The firemen did an excellent job in getting the fire out and luckily they were able to save the Winn-Dixie grocery store.  Now the next photograph is the clean-up several days later …

Studio Burned _ RTP _ SFW

There was an alley between the grocery store and the building that burned, so I am sure that was the reason that Winn-Dixie did not burn.  But it did have smoke and some water damage.  The above photo was taken the following week and I am not sure of the date.  The Moulton’s owned the property and cleaned up the damage within a week or so.  Now, the next images are of the new building that was built within six months of the fire …

12th and Gonzalez Street   _ RTP_12 Nov 14 SFW

Aerial view of 12th and Gonzalez_SFW

The aerial photograph is one that I made years later, but I thought that it added something to the rest of the images.  The only businesses that went back in were Dr. Hoyt, Fischler Framing and my father.  This new building was completed by February 1976.  He had moved across the street to a vacant building on Gonzalez Street and this is where he had started his business in 1948.  There are several other photos that I might throw up later, but this is the majority of the images that I have collected / found through the years. The Pensacola News Journal did an article on my father and the fire, but I do not know if I am allowed to publish the photos and the write-up, with copyright laws and such.  Speaking of which, there is a local hospital that has been using my photos in their centennial advertisements without my permission or compensation, but that is a whole other story.  Thanks for looking and please check back.  Also, if anyone remembers the fire and happened to around when the fire started, I would like to hear from you … Frank.  I will leave you with one more view across the parking lot looking North.

Old Sacred Heart Hospital  _ 5x4_ RTP   SFW

4 Responses

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  1. thanks for posting, been waiting along time for these.
    I was at this fire, as a fire buff growing up (before I actually was a firefighter) this was one of the biggest fires I went to up until then. I was there just as Firefighter ( Steve?) Koklas broke the window and went in the Florist shop, heroic effort, but just didn’t have enough water for that old wood and common attic, he quickly retreated. I and a friend of mine were later standing at that south wall when the backdraft occurred. I almost was hit by a ladder, and my friend was cut on the leg from the cinderblock. We were there several hours that day toting hose, air bottles, drinks, picking up, anything we could do (without getting in the way!). I will never forget that day. So sad that your dad lost a lot of stuff.


    Bill Jordan

    May 4, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    • Do you recognize any of the firemen in the photos? No one looks familiar at all to me, but then again it was almost forty years. I still want to get up with you sometime in the future. We always say at the start of the year and then it comes and goes … Keep in touch and nice hearing from you – Frank


      Frank Hardy

      May 7, 2015 at 8:14 am

  2. Hard to believe it has been 40 years! I was around and it is still heartbreaking to see the pictures all these years later.

    I remember standing in front of my old school and watching in disbelief. I do not want to think about all the photos and negatives that were lost in the fire.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Jayne Drexler Earle



    May 2, 2015 at 4:49 pm

    • Thanks for writing Jayne … I was going to wait until August to post this, but decided to go ahead with it. It took me years to run across and find all of the images posted. I tried to put them in some type of order, but several are out of sequence so I hope that does not matter. I wish I could find out when the building was built. I have an aerial taken of the area sometime in the 1940’s and the space where the building is located is just trees. It must have been the early 1950’s when it was built. Thanks again and please check back … Frank


      Frank Hardy

      May 7, 2015 at 8:11 am

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