Knickerbocker Theater Collapse of 1922

From GW Encyclopedia

The following is taken from the February 3, 1922 issue of the GW Hatchet. On January 29, 1922 the roof of the popular Knickerbocker Theater collapsed under the weight of snow, killing or injuring hundreds of people, including several members of the GW community.

“Six G.W. Students Lose Lives in Crash”

During the past week there have passed from among our midst six who last week joined with us in our work and our pleasures and who are now gone on with the many who did not return Saturday night. They, as we, had worked and had proved their fitness to continue their work here in the University, but now they cannot go on with us, cannot continue to share in all we do, individually, or as a school.

There are vacant places on the rolls and vacant chairs in the classrooms. They’ve left us to join the greater majority in the beyond, and even now watch as we, in our several ways and places, endeavor to carry on to greater and nobler ends the work in which they but a short time ago joined.

Lois Pitcher, a member of Sigma Kappa sorority, who would have received at the February Convocation the degree of bachelor of arts, was one of those who left us on Saturday evening. She left, by her going, the position of honor and importance in her class committees and that place which she held in the regard of all those who accounted her a friend.

Hazel Price, a pledge of Chi Omega sorority and an active member in the freshmen class, was another who failed to return Saturday. She had gone with Wyatt McKimmie to the theater to celebrate the completion of the period of midyear examination. To her friends, both in the University and those not associated with it, her going marks the end of an association at once enjoyable and highly valued.

Vivian Ogden, a member of the sophomore class of Columbian College, also failed to be present with us in our classes when the new semester began. She, too, had gone to the theater, but did not come back when the performance ended. Of quiet, charming and unselfish nature, her passing leaves a place hard to fill.

Wyatt McKimmie, a member of the freshman class of the engineering college, accompanied Miss Price on Saturday evening and after the disaster was also among those who had gone on. His professors considered him among their very best students and declared his death a real loss to the University.

William Sammon, a member of the freshman class of the Law School, also failed to return after the entertainment on Saturday. He was well known among the students of the Law School and the part of which he took in class discussions will be greatly missed during the new semester.

John Fleming, a member of Sigma Nu fraternity and a graduate of Columbian College in 1913, was another student of the Law School who died Saturday night. Having already obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree, he was studying for his bachelor of laws degree, and as proof of his interest in the University had returned there to accomplish that end.

Several of the classes of the University in which some of the above had been enrolled contributed to express by appropriate floral tributes their sorrow for their departed classmates. It seemed that those who have left were unusually fortunate in the great number of friends which they had among those who attended classes with them and so their loss is more keenly felt than it might otherwise have been.

To the friends and families of those who have left us the University extends its deepest sympathy and wishes to assure them that in its estimation they are not dead, but have merely gone on to continue the work they were doing here.

While the roll of the injured among the students of the University is not complete, the names Charles Ruby, Maria Rhea, and Herbert Quinn are given as being among those who escaped almost certain death in the recent disaster. They are to be congratulated on their escape even while we sympathize with them because of their injuries.

Prof. C. L. Hall, of the Medical School, was also among those injured at the theater.


The freshman class of the Law School has expressed its sorrow in the following resolution:

Whereas through the medium of the heart-rending tragedy that occurred at the Knickerbocker Theater last Saturday Evening, our late fellow student, Lieutenant William B. Sammon, met his death; and

Whereas his fellow students will no longer enjoy his pleasant comradeship; therefore be it

RESOLVED, That we, his former fellow students of the 1924 class of the George Washington University Law School, do greatly grieve his loss; and that we do express to his parents our sincere and most heartfelt sympathy in their hour of bereavement.

For the class: Edward Sheuffler, President James Duggan, Dorothy James, Edwin S. Bettelheim, Jr., Committee

Lieutenant William B. Sammon is to [be] buried with full military honors at the request of his father.

When the roll was called in Prof. Spaulding’s class in personal property and the professor reached the name of William Sammon he stopped and, rising, announced simply that Sammon’s name was next on the list. The moment of silent tribute which followed was most impressive.

Among the many sad incidents connected with the tragedy was the receipt of several telegrams inquiring as to the welfare of several reported killed or injured in the accident. Two were received from mothers inquiring for their sons. Both had been killed.

President Hodgkins has personally expressed his sympathy to the families of the deceased and injured, and is in every way trying to lighten the burden already imposed upon them.

Document Information

Images: 0
Photographic Credit: n/a
Author or Source: Hatchet February 3, 1922
Document Location: University Archives
Date Added to Encyclopedia: December 21, 2006
Prepared by: Lyle Slovick

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