Remembering the Schwartz Funeral Home Fire on July 4, 1983
I was born and raised in Hannibal, Missouri and one of the iconic buildings downtown during my childhood was the Schwartz Funeral Home. That was until the night of the 4th of July in 1983 when it burned to the ground.
I was reminded of this memory after I came across a picture of what used to be the Schwartz Funeral Home as it appeared in 1982 in a photo taken by John Margolies in the Library of Congress. Here's the full photo as it appears there.
I remember the night of July 4, 1983 very well. I was a junior at Hannibal High School and I was down by the river watching the fireworks. As I recall, I was walking with friends back from the river toward wherever we were parked downtown when I could see a glow on the right side of Broadway. As we got closer, it was obvious that something major was on fire. By the time we got within a few blocks, we could see the Schwartz Funeral Home was fully engulfed. I don't remember any other specifics other than it was the most intense fire I ever recall seeing.
It was a building rich with history and I highly recommend an article written by Mary Lou Montgomery for the Hannibal Courier-Post that does a deep dive into Roy P. Schwartz and how that building came to be.
Those born in more recent years only know that corner which is now Schwartz Manor apartments.
I don't think there's been a 4th of July since that I don't remember that night in 1983 when none of us could remember how great the fireworks were. Our memories were a fire unlike any we had ever seen.