Here’s another story from our book "Stories from the Boom Years," which is available now at the Monon Depot.
In the early spring of 1904, Elmer Davis and Roscoe Mann opened a barbershop in the west building of the Bond Block, a set of three adjoined buildings owned by Calvin Bond. The buildings were located where the Carmel Old Town Antique Mall is today. Bond’s furniture store was in the middle building, and Alpheus Farlow’s General Store was in the east building. When the barbershop was plumbed for gas, one end of a pipe that extended under the furniture store was left unplugged, and gas collected under the floorboards of all three buildings. On the afternoon of March 31, 1904, Davis and Mann struck a match to light their stove and ignited the gas.
The explosion shattered windows across the street and could be heard for miles. Residents reported seeing a sheet of flames lift the roof off the building. The interior of the barbershop was destroyed. Davis and Mann were both cut and bruised about the head. Bond was thrown against the ceiling of his furniture store and was showered with falling timbers. One of his legs was crushed at the knee, and he suffered internal injuries as well. The force of the blast was so great that a chair leg pierced a ceiling board and remained stuck there.
The general store’s sixteen year old clerk, Bessie Wickersham, was hurled through the front window and was covered in debris. Residents rushed to her aid and quickly extinguished a fire that was started by the store’s overturned stove. Fortunately, the occupants of the rooms on the second floor of the block were out at the time of the explosion. Seventy-two-year-old Calvin Bond was not expected to recover from his injuries, but he lived another nine years.