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July 10, 2023

Fire heavily damages historic Broad Street Market in Harrisburg

The Civil War-era landmark is one of the oldest markets of its kind still operating in the U.S. One of its two buildings went up in flames Monday morning

Investigations Fires
Broad Street Market Fire StreetView/Google Maps

The Broad Street Market in Harrisburg is a national landmark. Its 'Brick Building,' completed in 1878, caught fire Monday morning.

An overnight fire tore through a brick building that houses part of Harrisburg's historic Broad Street Market, a city-owned farmers market whose history stretches back to the Civil War.

Firefighters responded to the blaze at the market around 1 a.m. to find flames tearing through the property's rear building along Sixth Street. They were able to get the fire under control before the flames could damage the original stone building, which sits nearby at the intersection of North Third and Verbeke streets in the state capital.

There were no injuries reported in the fire. The cause is unknown and remains under investigation.

Located about four blocks from the Capitol, Broad Street Market is described as one the nation's oldest continuously operated market houses. It's still home to about 40 vendors who sell fresh produce, meats, baked goods, ice cream and other items. The market was founded in 1860, just before the start of the Civil War. Produce from local farmers fed 300,000 Union soldiers who were stationed at nearby Camp Curtin. The present-day buildings were completed in 1863 and 1878.

Monday's fire broke out at the the newer of the two buildings, which were formerly connected by wooden structure. Drone footage captured by FOX43 showed the roof was destroyed, with the building's interior filed with debris and soot.

"Broad Street Market is one of the oldest continuously operating farmers markets in the country — a place where we come together to support local small businesses and our community," Gov. Josh Shapiro tweeted Monday. The governor pledged support to Harrisburg to rebuild the structure.

At its peak in the 1920s, Broad Street Market had more than 725 vendors. At the time, it was known as the "Dutch Fair" due to the prominence of Amish and Mennonite vendors. The market was last privately owned in the mid-1970s before it was transferred to the city, which created the Broad Street Market Authority to serve as operator. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 and has undergone a renaissance as a community gathering space in recent years after decades of declining popularity.

Along with Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market, founded in 1893, and the Lancaster Central Market, founded in 1730, Broad Street Market is one of the few large farmers markets remaining from that era in Pennsylvania history.

At a press conference on Monday afternoon, Harrisburg Mayor Wanda Williams said her administration is committed to restoring the market after the damage has been assessed. Officials are working develop a plan to keep affected vendors operating at an alternate location during the reconstruction of the damaged building.