A “Bomb” is Found and Officer Sprinkle Saves the Day

Old Masonic Temple building (via Jacqueline Drayer)

Once again, our favorite hero has come to the rescue.

This tale from the annals of Officer Sprinkle dates back to July 1st, 1914. The Washington Post reported a story about an explosive device found in a telephone box near the Old Masonic Temple.

Old Masonic Temple at 9th and F St. NW in 1909 (Library of Congress)
Old Masonic Temple at 9th and F St. NW in 1909 (Library of Congress)

Read the Post’s account of the incident below.

“It’s a dynamite bomb all right,” one man emphatically announced.

“Does look like an infernal machine,” declared another.

Then the police were notified that an attempt to blow up the Old Masonic Temple, at Ninth and F streets northwest, last night, had been frustrated by the timely discovery of an explosive device hidden in a telephone booth adjoining the large auditorium on the second floor.

There was to be a mass meeting of citizens held in the hall, the purpose of which was to protest against the colored man enjoying franchise.

When the police arrived they found an excited group near the telephone booth, wherein reposed to the deadly machine. A detective approachel [sic] the booth stealthily, and gingerly lifted the suspected object out. The crowd backed away.

There were many conjectures as to the object of the person who planted the bomb. There appeared to be several fuses issuing from it. The thing was about the size of a shoe box, made of wood, painted black, and embellished with strange copper appliances.

Officer Sprinkle
Officer Sprinkle

The police exercised the greatest of care in handling it at the First precinct station, where “it” was taken. Lieut. J. L. Sprinkle examined the thing, but did not accept a challenge to take a kick at it. During the deliberations Frank S. Hammersley, 940 Thirteenth street southeast, an electrician, came rushing into the station, and said he had been robbed.

“Yes, robbed,” he continued. “I’ve been working on a new model for an electric battery. This afternoon I left my battery in a telephone booth up at the Old Masonic Temple, and now it’s gone.”

Lieut. Sprinkle pointed to the “infernal machine.” “Is that it?” he asked.

Hammersley’s face beamed with joy. He pounced upon his invention and hugged it in his arms.

“That’s it,” he said. “Some durn fool stole it, but I knew the police would find it for me all right.”

There are so many things ridiculous about this, the first obviously being the anachronistic racism, warranting a mass meeting of citizens. The second being the absurd lack of training in handling explosives and sheer reliance on gut instinct and bravery (or stupidity) — did someone really yell out to kick the damn thing? That’s not dumb at all, worthy of a Darwin award … luckily, our Officer Sprinkle is not a Darwin award candidate.

GoDCer Jacqueline Drayer (aka, @jackie_bird) took some great photos of the Old Masonic Temple. The featured photo is also by her, so this post would be bland without her contributions, not to mention her proofreading … she caught an extraneous comma when previewing the post.

Old Masonic Temple building (via Jacqueline Drayer)
Old Masonic Temple building (via Jacqueline Drayer)
Old Masonic Temple building (via Jacqueline Drayer)
Old Masonic Temple building (via Jacqueline Drayer)
Old Masonic Temple building (via Jacqueline Drayer)
Old Masonic Temple building (via Jacqueline Drayer)

About Tom

Tom founded Ghosts of DC on January 4th, 2012 as a blog to uncover the lost and untold history of Washington, D.C. He has lived in the city for over a decade and loves exploring every corner of the District.

Check Also

Evening star., March 15, 1913, Page 4

Chevy Chase 1913 Real Estate Advertisement

We love digging up old ads from the papers like this one showing some great …