Barn Swallow a total loss

Published 4:03 am Thursday, October 7, 2004

By By MARCIA STEFFENS / Niles Daily Star
CASSOPOLIS - Cass County lost a unique part of its community when tragedy stuck early Monday.
Fire destroyed Barn Swallow Theatre, 24010 Hospital St.
Marj Federowski, treasurer of the board of the Barn Swallow, was up late working on her computer, her window just across the parking lot from the Barn Swallow apartments.
But it was resident Barb Lepel who called in the 911 call, after another resident who was up doing laundry, but didn't have a phone, knocked on her door.
Lepel and resident Pam Conley described how they were evacuated and moved to the south of the building.
The fire possibly started in a storage barn near the theater.
When Cassopolis firefighters arrived about 1 a.m., that barn was gone and the Barn Swallow Theatre was 50-percent engulfed, according to Fire Chief Bill Fitzgerald.
Both buildings burned to the ground. Four vehicles were destroyed by intense heat, including a Blazer owned by Erin Morgan.
Fire departments from Edwardsburg, Penn Township and Dowagiac assisted Cassopolis at the scene. Dowagiac brought its aerial truck to deal with sparks threatening the apartments.
It's been 20 years ago that "the barn swallows were shooed out and a dead fox removed" from the 1922 barn.
The first production in 1984 was the Spoon River Anthology.