Friday, November 10, 2017

Celebrating Ten Years of Usefulness

The Ellis Hotel Opened In 2007
Abandoned for twenty-six years, the old Winecoff Hotel building was a silent stain of urban blight on Atlanta's most famous street. And then at last, the sun rose on a new era of usefulness. The Winecoff Hotel building was re-opened as The Ellis on Peachtree Hotel in the fall of 2007. Relive the Ellis Hotel opening here.


Friday, February 24, 2017

Youth Assembly Ribbon Discovered

YMCA Advisor's Ribbon

Carlos Hamil

Winecoff fire survivor Richard Hamil recently discovered his father's YMCA advisor's ribbon. Carlos Hamil was the faculty advisor for the eight member 1946 YMCA Youth Assembly delegation from Rome, Ga.

Carlos Hamil kept the ribbon all his life, as he did a sense of guilt that four of his charges died on the tenth floor, even though there was nothing he could have possibly done to help them. The Hamils were trapped on the fifteenth floor until they were rescued by ladder across the alley on the hotel's west side.

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Thursday, February 02, 2017

And Then There Was One

A hero has passed. The Atlanta Fire Rescue Department's retired Chief of Training Raymond McGill passed away today. A hero of the Winecoff fire and a mentor to hundreds of Atlanta firefighters, Raymond McGill was one hundred years old. More here. Retired Atlanta Fire Department Chief R.B. Sprayberry is now the last living Winecoff firefighter.

 See Final Honor.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Winecoff Hotel Photo 1918

Peachtree Street 1918 (click to enlarge)
The Atlanta History Center has shared on Facebook and Instagram this 1918 photo of Atlanta's Peachtree Street. It shows the Winecoff Hotel's south side and rooftop sign. The concrete, brick and steel monolith was built in 1913 and operates today as the Ellis Hotel.


Thursday, December 08, 2016

Luncheon Honors Winecoff Fire Victims

A commemorative luncheon was held at the Ellis Hotel Wednesday marking the 70th anniversary of the Winecoff fire. The Atlanta tragedy inspired the fire safety codes the world relies on.

Jeff Martin has written for the Associated Press here and here.


Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Winecoff Fire 70th Anniversary Commemoration

Against all odds, Dr. Robert Cox, 73, and Richard Hamil, 79,
 survived the Winecoff Hotel fire 70 years ago

Many whose lives were touched by the Winecoff fire gathered to commemorate the fire's 70th anniversary Tuesday at Heritage Sandy Springs in north Atlanta. Among the guests were two survivors of the fire and a host of people with family connections to the 1946 fire.

Dr. Robert Cox was three years old. His father, forced by heavy smoke and encroaching flames, took little Robert into his arms and leapt toward a fire net ten floors below. The net was manned by a mixture of firefighters and civilian volunteers. They all told the same story:

As they were falling, Robert's father realized they would not land in the center of the net. So he pushed his son away from himself and toward the middle of the net. An instant later the toddler landed safely but his father struck his head fatally on the net's metal rim. His final act in life saved his son.

Richard Hamil was on the alley side of the hotel on the fifteenth floor with his own father. They barely survived two terrifying hours of smoke and heat in the room. They were rescued by ladder across a ten foot alleyway into another building.

Other audience members also shared their stories about how their lives and families were effected by the fire. 

Sam Heys and Allen B. Goodwin discussed their book, The Winecoff Fire: The Untold Story of America's Deadliest Hotel Fire and Chet Wallace spoke about his own book to be released next year titled The Winecoff Fire Victims: A Dedication to the 119.

Sandra Parish covered Tuesday's gathering for Atlanta's WSB radio here.
Doug Walker has written about Richard Hamil for today's Rome News-Tribune here.
Rescued alongside the Hamils was Jane Wallace.
Robert's parents are remembered here.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

YMCA Youth Assembly Marks 70th Anniversary of The Winecoff Fire

Sue Broome, 16, perished in the Winecoff fire. Her great nephew and niece, Colton, 16, and Jarrett Broome, 14, attended the YMCA Youth Assembly luncheon November 14th.

Clear-eyed young people in their Sunday best gathered Monday at the historic Georgia Freight Depot for the annual YMCA Youth Assembly luncheon. The high school students from all across Georgia come to Atlanta each year to be delegates in a mock legislature.

To mark the 70th anniversary of the Winecoff fire, thirty Youth Assembly delegates and two faculty advisers, who were lost in the 1946 fire, were remembered with thirty-two white flowers and a moment of silence.

Nearly 800 delegates heard the story of the Winecoff fire from co-authors Sam Heys and Allen B. Goodwin. Their remarks are here.

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Friday, September 16, 2016

Winecoff Firefighter Raymond McGill

Retired Chief of Training Raymond McGill in 2011 - photo by Donna Bowman

One of two living Winecoff firefighters is Raymond McGill. He is ninety-nine years old.

On the Winecoff Hotel fire scene, McGill worked ladder rescues on the Ellis St. side of the burning hotel and later went into the building. "People that could come down those stair wells, they would run over you getting down out of there, with fireman trying to get up. That's the biggest thing, turmoil there. People were excited."

Recalling a harsh moment McGill said, "I was on that rescue truck. I stayed there until we hauled people down to the Grady Hospital until the Grady people said, 'don't bring any more down here.' Chief Styron said, 'you tell 'em this is City business and if they have to stack 'em in the hall, they're going to keep on coming.' That's about the instruction I got."

And a lighter moment: "The scene that sticks in my mind, there was some fireman he was crawling around the floor up there. He crawled and he thought he was coming back out into the hallway. There was a closet. He got himself into that closet and didn't know where he was at, it was so close. And when he finally got out on the side he said, this is the statement he made, 'I to myself, I ain't got no business in here!'"

Raymond McGill later became Chief of Training. "Raymond McGill was every Atlanta fireman's mentor. Everyone. He was the go-to person for strategy and tactics for fighting any fire," said former Atlanta firefighter Danny Bowman.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Broken Hero

A new Winecoff Fire Readers' Mail entry details the lifetime of struggles one Winecoff firefighter suffered after the morning's heroic work. Read Broken Hero here.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Sixty-Ninth Anniversary Article

Writing for the Rome News-Tribune, Blake Doss has written an article remembering the four boys from Rome, Georgia who perished in the 1946 Winecoff Hotel Fire. His article is here.