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Q. Do you have any information about the Christmas Eve fire at St. Mary's Catholic Church, Davenport? -- Andrew

A. According to news story published Wednesday, Dec. 24, 1947, in The Democrat and Leader, a faulty smoke stack leading to the chimney caused the flames and created an estimated $50,000 damage. Flames spread quickly through the front of the building, completely destroying the main altar and causing heavy loss to the west portion of the structure.

Flames gained considerable headway by the time firemen arrived around 1 a.m., the story read. It was nearly 4 a.m. by the time the blaze was completely under control.

Christmas services were moved to St. Mary's school located across the street, according to the Rev. Leo A. Kerrigan, pastor. The solemn observance of the feast of Christmas was scheduled to be held at 5:30 a.m. Thursday with other Masses being held in the school auditorium at 7, 9 and 10:30 a.m. and at noon, the story said.

"Despite the fact that the smoke and flames were almost impenetrable, firemen, under the direction of Father Kerrigan, succeeded in making their way to the blazing altar and removed the repository containing the Blessed Sacrament, a bronze and steel vault weighing several hundred pounds," the article read.

"Davenport firemen, under the direction of First Assistant Fire Chief Fred Swensen, were highly praised by Father Kerrigan and members of the parish for their action in limiting the fire to only a portion of the structure.

"For a time, it appeared that the entire building might be destroyed as the stubborn flames, fanned by a draft in the huge building, crept between flooring and walls. A general alarm was sounded, and when the seriousness was discovered, Asst. Chief Swensen called for Engine 3 and Truck 3 to assist," the story read.

"Swensen said that a smoke stack, leading to the chimney in the northwest corner of the building, apparently became overheated or spewed sparks to start the blaze. Flames quickly ate thru flooring in the sacristy, and into the wall to destroy the altar of St. Joseph. The altar of the Blessed Virgin escaped serious damage.

"From there the flames swept beneath the floor of the sanctuary, destroying the main altar and badly damaging the front of the church. Altho scorched, the reredos, or high back, was not destroyed. It began to tip early in the morning, and firemen propped it up with pike polls to prevent its collapse."

To read more about the Christmas Eve fire at St. Mary's, visit

Q. Was just wondering, we rent an apartment in Davenport. We don't have a lease. Do we have any rights toward parking, noise or such? Even inspections? Is there where someone can look up renters rights or do we even have since no lease? -- Davenport reader

A. According to the City of Davenport website, tenants and landlords have certain basic rights and responsibilities. To read more about the specifics or to download or print a "Tenant's Guide to Renting in Davenport" visit


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