In 1912 a fire swept through Gaden’s Hall, at the southeast corner of Madison Street and Desplaines Avenue. The blaze, which started at 11 p.m., burned until the next morning. There were nine men on the fire department force at that time; two were paid (Fire Chief John Pries and Assistant Chief Charles Armburst), and the other seven were volunteers. Forest Park’s horse team, Tom and Jerry, were the two large black horses that pulled the fire equipment to the scene. Two other fire departments, Austin and Oak Park, came to the aid of the Forest Park firefighters. Oak Park engines were pulled by dappled grays, and the Austin engine company 96 boasted sleek white teams. Austin fire department had a steam pump that pressurized the water to spray it higher and farther; that pump was drawn by another set of horses.
Gaden’s Hall was a restaurant, saloon, dance hall and had a large picnic grove behind it. Gaden’s served the many mourners who came to town. In addition, the local farmers (as much of the land west of DesPlaines was farmland) frequented Gaden’s.