Tuesday, December 11, 2018

WABE-FM Radio Segment Ahead

Atlanta's WABE-FM 90.1 radio has delayed the airing of their piece on the 1946 Winecoff Hotel fire until an unspecified day next week.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Stories of the Winecoff Fire

Winecoff Fire co-authors Sam Heys and Allen B. Goodwin are pleased to commend to readers a new book by Chet Wallace: Stories of the Winecoff Fire.

First inspired by The Winecoff Fire: The Untold Story of America's Deadliest Hotel Fire, Wallace's book brings new width and depth to the saga. 119 people died, but who were they? Wallace's labor of love and respect for the fire's victims brings us the answers. Wallace examines the back stories of 119 ordinary people who's deaths inspired the fire safety standards the world now relies on. We see the first half of the 20th century through their eyes and learn how their paths converged at the Winecoff Hotel in Atlanta December 7, 1946.

 “Chet Wallace first came to us in 2010,” said Winecoff fire co-author, Sam Heys. “It was clear to us he was as interested in the story as we were.”

“He reinvigorated our research and began turning up new witnesses and family members of the victims. He located many of the victims' photos now on Winecoff.org's Remembrance Page,” added Allen B. Goodwin.

Thanks to Wallace's reverent study, mostly forgotten victims of a tragic fire long ago emerge as a lovable collective still guarding the safely of millions the world over.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

And Then There Were None

Chief R. B. Sprayberry, Chet Wallace & Allen B. Goodwin in 2015
The last living Winecoff fire firefighter has died: R. B. Sprayberry, 95. A career Atlanta firefighter, he rose to become chief of the department 34 years after fighting the Winecoff Hotel Fire.

On December 7, 1946 Sprayberry was dispatched from Fire Station 12 on the second of four alarms. He was sent to work the back side of the hotel but eventually found himself on the Peachtree Street side and then into the building. Many were rescued.

In 2011 he was among four living Winecoff firefighters honored at a luncheon commemorating the fire's 65th anniversary. Now the last of the Winecoff fire heroes are gone.

He told an interviewer in 2011, "When you get my age (89) you remember some and you don't remember some but I'll remember the Winecoff. I was just a fireman at that time but I'll go to my grave knowing about it."

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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