Markers are located at the northeast and southwest corners of California and Atlantic Avenues.
Church marker text:
This memorial is dedicated the first day of December, 1996 to the posthumous memory of the first two Atlantic City firefighters to die heroically in active service.
Placed on the occasion of Our Lady Star of the Sea's observance of the 100th anniversary of the St. Monica's Church fire on this site
the second day of December, 1896.
Former Assistant Chief William H. Doherty
Good Will H&L
Thomas L. Blakney
"...No greater love..." John 15:13
The fire in St. Monica's Church began in a chimney on December 2, 1896 during mass. Father Petri, smelling smoke, sent a messenger to the fire station across the street. Firefighters from Chelsea Fire Company No. 6 and the Good Will Hook & Ladder Company responded, but due to the below-freezing temperatures and strong winds, the fire proved extremely difficult to fight. Everyone was ordered out of the building as collapse became imminent, but two firefighters, William H. Doherty and Thomas L. Blakney (also known as Thomas Lenny), never made it out. They were the first two volunteers to die in the line of duty in Atlantic City. In the aftermath of the church's destruction, Our Lady Star of the Sea church was constructed.
Across the street from the site of this plaque is a memorial to Firefighter John Seedorf, affixed to the front of the fire station in which he served and which was renamed in his honor.
Fire Fighter John A. Seedorf
March 22, 1949 - April 9, 1979
Fire Fighter John A. Seedorf joined the Atlantic City Fire Department on December 23, 1973. His first assignment was at Fire Station 10, formerly located at Rhode Island Avenue and Melrose Avenue. He served honorably as a fire fighter for 5 years. He ended his career at Engine No. 4, Division 3 located at Atlantic and California Avenue.
Fire Fighter John A. Seedorf was killed in the line of duty on April 9, 1979.
The City of Atlantic City proudly honors Fire Fighter John A. Seedorf for his years of service to his community and his commitment to saving lives by naming Fire Station No. 4 in his honor.
Fire Station No. 4 will now be known as the Fire Fighter John A. Seedorf Memorial Fire Station.
John Seedorf was a Vietnam veteran who served in the Air Force. He was thirty years old when he was killed in a collapse in a burning building on Elberon Avenue. Though the building was vacant, Seedorf entered anyway to make sure no one was trapped inside. His unfortunate death has led to improvements in safety equipment for Atlantic City's firefighters, as well as reviews of the policies on entering vacant buildings. In addition to Fire Station No. 4 being renamed in Seedorf's honor, the beach block of Elberon Avenue was renamed John A. Seedorf Lane on the 15th anniversary of the blaze. Fire Captain William McGrail said on the occasion, "John was one of those people who makes life fun, period. He had a way of making each day as different and unique as he was. He is missed."
For more information, see:
Atlantic City Press, articles from April 10, 1994, May 26, 2000 and January 14, 2008
Kemp, Franklin: "Firefighting By The Seashore"