5 St. Catherine Street
One of my favorite books as a kid was Jay Robert Nash’s Darkest Hours: A Narrative Encyclopedia of Worldwide Disasters from Ancient Times to the Present. Not only providing the stories of hundreds of disasters, the book includes are photographs from the scenes, including some that are quite graphic. One of those photographs I remember clearly is from the 1940 fire at the Rhythm Night Club in Natchez. The photograph shows bodies of many of the African-American club goers laid out. These nicely dressed people are covered with soot with some almost frozen in dance-like attitudes.
As I’m reading through my blogs tonight, I came across an entry from Natchez Ghosts: The Devil’s Punchbowl, the official blog of the Natchez Area Paranormal Society regarding this recently opened museum. The museum is located on the site of the night club and serves as a memorial to this fire that claimed around 207 lives (there are discrepancies in the actual number) and affected many more.
|Headline from the 24 April 1940 Delta Democrat-Times of|
Opening last year, the Rhythm Night Club Memorial Museum, seeks to tell the story of this tragedy as well as memorialize the site. The blog entry on Natchez Ghosts mentions that one of the founders has reported paranormal activity at the site. This activity includes the sounds of voices, music and doors opening and closing. He has also found photographs apparently removed from the walls and then laid on the floor at interesting angles. It should be noted that there are many sites related to similar tragedies with paranormal activity such as the site of the Eastland disaster (1915) in Chicago, the Winecoff Hotel fire (1946) in Atlanta and Ground Zero (2001) in New York City.
The blog entry also mentions that NAPS is ramping up to investigate the location in the very near future. I look forward to seeing their evidence.
Fare you well, goodbye!
I’m just gonna let all you people know
What happened in that Natchez fire.
-- Gene Gilmore, “TheNatchez Fire,” one of a number of jazz and blues songs written to memorialize the fire. See the YouTube video for a recording of the song with photographs from the fire.
Hogan, Vershal. “Rhythm Nigh Club fire museum dedicated.”
Natchez Democrat. 25 April 2010.
Nash, Jay Robert. Darkest Hours: A Narrative Encyclopedia
of Worldwide Disasters from Ancient Times to the Present.
Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1976.
Natchez Area Paranormal Society. “Rhythm Night Club
Fire Investigation.” Natchez Ghosts: The Devil’s Punchbowl.
20 September 2011.
Rhythm Clubfire. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed
20 September 2011.
Natchez Democrat. 8 November 2010.