Rare Footage: The Maxwell House Hotel Fire in 1961


Frame from the Maxwell House Hotel Fire 8mm movie taken by Frank Kurzynske on December 26, 1961.

The Maxwell House Hotel Fire in Nashville TN from 8mm movie taken on December 26, 1961.


This famous hotel located in the heart of downtown Nashville caught fire on Christmas night in 1961.  Nothing remains of it but a marker.

Built before the civil war, this elegant structure was once the social center for prominent dignitaries and socialites, and even inspired the brand of coffee we all know.  When it caught fire it bathed the city in an eerie red glow and could be seen for miles.  By the next morning most of its interior was gone.

We might not have any moving images of the fire at all if not for this 8mm footage that came from Frank Kurzynske’s family home movie collection.  After he gave us permission to share, we couldn’t resist posting it for you.  (You can watch the video by clicking here.)

There are not many hotels in the US with as colorful a history.  You can read about it in Betsy Thorpe’s wonderful Pictorial History of the Maxwell House Hotel.  The Nashville Retrospect also reran the actual news article of the fire in their December 2009 issue.



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2 responses to “Rare Footage: The Maxwell House Hotel Fire in 1961

  1. Great Find and Good Job for preserving this piece of Nashville history.

    Not only does this video clip show the conflagration that consumed Nashville’s historic Maxwell House Hotel on December 25 1961, it also offers a nostalgic glimpse of downtown Nashville.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Betsy Thorpe

  2. I was working at Radio Station WMAK located in the Maxewell House when the fire occured. I ran in the studio and got the commercial book and a few tapes and broadcast from our tower shack the rest of the day.

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