Among the ruins...


“Curiosity seekers were met within large numbers everywhere, and many articles found among the ruins were taken away as souvenirs of the great conflagration.” The Saginaw Courier Herald, May 22, 1893

Historic photographs show people searching through the ruins left by the fire of May 20, 1893. Sometimes it was a “tourist” seeking a souvenir – some macabre memento of the of the disaster. However, often the photographs seem to capture individuals in futile attempts to locate something salvageable in what had been their homes.


The melted coins mounted on the handle of this silver spoon were found by the Malcolm McCalman family in the ruins of their home destroyed on May 20, 1893. Bearing witness to the incredible heat of the blaze, these coins are fused together. According to tradition, they represented the earnings of one of the McCalman’s sons from delivering newspapers,

Malcolm McCalman was a machinist who had emigrated from Scotland with his family. At the time of the disaster, they were living at 320 Howard St. [today the address would be 920 Howard St.]. The house and contents that were destroyed were insured for $900. The family had a new dwelling constructed on the same lot immediately after the fire.


Donated by the family, the spoon has been in the museum’s collection since the 1960s.