Belmont Casket Co. & The Penitentiary Fire of 1930: Columbus Walking Tour

Belmont Casket Co. & The Penitentiary Fire of 1930: Columbus Walking Tour


I was walking near my apartment when I looked up to see the most remarkable old rooftop advertisement off Neil Ave. I did some quick Googling and turns out Columbus, OH was home to an empire of the death industry, Belmont Casket Co. They were incorporated in 1916 but the building was constructed in 1885. Apparently, they held a patent for the Cadillac of caskets called “The Masterpiece,” a handcrafted coffin with indestructible steel lid in which Marilyn Monroe was purportedly buried. Woman was clearly concerned about body snatchers.


This real estate company now owns the building. It’s probably fun living/working inside an old casket factory. Their slogan really gets me.

Screenshot 2017-09-19 19.26.42.png(Credit)

Also, this place has the craziest connection to the catastrophic Columbus penitentiary fire of

320 inmates were left to burn alive in their cells after a fire started on the roof. It’s one of America’s deadliest fires next to the Triangle Shirtwaist tragedy. Because of proximity to the prison (not to mention available product), the casket factory became a temporary holding facility for hundreds of bodies when the morgue got too full.


The above photo shows those departed lined up in Belmont brand caskets at the Ohio State Fairgrounds, where a mass funeral ceremony was held for the unclaimed. Not much information remains about the factory or how much money they likely made from the blaze, but the advertisement alone is my favorite thing I’ve discovered in the neighborhood so far. P.S. Hope your Autumn is off to a great start!

IMG_3995.JPG(Credit: Alysen Wade)

3 thoughts on “Belmont Casket Co. & The Penitentiary Fire of 1930: Columbus Walking Tour

  1. I did a short temp job there back in about 1978. Taking inventory. I had to go through the room where the linings were being sewn into the caskets to get to the break room. A little creepy. The winter of 1978 proved too much for me trying to get there from the north end on the bus in all that snow and cold that year, so the job was very short-lived. Also, my brother applied there thinking it was Belmont gaskets. He was surprised when he went in and saw caskets instead!


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