Today in 1878, fire broke out in the Ocean House on Perry Street. Less than twelve hours later, it had destroyed forty acres and destroyed commercial properties including Congress Hall, Ocean House, Centre House, Columbia House, Atlantic House, and Merchant’s Hotel. The total loss was estimated at $400,000. Arson was suspected, but the suspect was found innocent due to insufficient evidence.
The outlined area above, on this 1878 map that appeared in the Philadelphia Bulletin just days after the fire, shows the extent of the devastation caused by the blaze.