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LANSING HISTORY: Burning of the Kerns Hotel, 1934

On the corner of Ottawa and Grand, between the Radisson Hotel and the Grand River, lies Wentworth Park. Back on December 11, 1934, it was the location of an historically tragic event: the burning of the Kerns Hotel. It’s been labeled as “the 6th worst deadliest hotel fire” in the 20th Century… may have noticed the historical marker that stands there.

The Kerns Hotel was the first hotel in Michigan to have running ice water in all rooms. Thanks to it’s location, the clientele included many state legislators and big shots from around the country. Thanks to it’s popularity, the hotel expanded up to 211 rooms by 1934; and then, not long afterward, the fire broke out between 5am – 5:30am on December 11, 1934.

The blazes killed 34 people and injured 42 more, including 14 firemen, a state senator and six state representatives that included John Dykstra. Out of 215 guests at the time, the lucky ones that were able to escape got out by jumping into nets and climbing down fire ladders.

Did you know there was a hotel on the corner of Ottawa and Grand at one time?
Some residents don’t.

Click the above photo gallery and take a look at another piece of historic Lansing history. The video below shows pictures, re-enactments, newspaper articles and interviews from people who were around at the time.

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