Terre Haute Living August 2018 - Page 15

UP FRONT at the museum A HERO OF THE PAST T he term “local hero” is not just reserved for public safety officers. On Dec. 19, 1898, a young man named Claude Herbert sacrificed his own life to save several individuals when a Terre Haute department store caught on fire. The Havens & Geddes department store, on the north- east corner of Wabash Avenue and Fifth Street, went up in flames when an incandescent light bulb popped in a display window. Herbert, who was hired just two days earlier to play Santa Claus, helped more than 30 kids out of the burn- ing building and then went back into the store to rescue several store clerks who were trapped in the basement. While Herbert saved many lives that evening, his own was not among them. The selfless Santa died in the burning building. His cremated remains are interred in a mausoleum at Highland Lawn Cemetery, and a charcoal portrait of him hangs in the Vigo Coun- ty Historical Society Museum. WORDS: LEAH R. SINGER PHOTOGRAPHY: AUSTEN LEAKE The Vigo County His- torical Society Museum is closed for the remainder of the year as the staff prepares to move into its new building on Wabash Avenue. It will re-open in early 2019. tribstar.com/terrehauteliving November August 2018 2017 • Terre Haute Living 15