My hometown of Springfield, Ohio holds a mystery from 1953 that still hasn’t been solved. This is a story of intrigue and mystery that allows our thinking to expand until we grow weary of trying to solve the puzzle.

Springfield has a rich history of industry, people and talent but, this column will deal mostly with a mystery. Yes, a mystery that takes us to Downtown Springfield, namely on the corner of East Main and North Limestone Streets.

The Zimmerman building was built in 1915 as a five-story with a basement office building. As with the architecture of other downtown buildings, the Zimmerman Building was fashioned as an office building on the upper floors and retail businesses on the main floor.

One of the Main floor businesses was Finnegan’s Bar. Rex Miller was working that night and said, “I heard something like a shot being fired or an explosion in the basement,’’ Miller told the newspaper. “The next thing I knew was flames flaring from the basement.’’ The barkeeper pulled the fire alarm on the corner at 2:52 a.m., on that March early morning of 1953.

The Springfield Daily News reported the second alarm went out at 2:58 a.m. The General Alarm sounded at 3:17 a.m. Every truck, apparatus, and Firefighter that Springfield had was summoned to Main and Limestone to fight a fire that traveled quickly up the shaft of a dumb waiter.

The courageous Firefighters battled the blaze for five hours but, there was a strange light glowing on one of the burned-out floors. They all took a look including the supervisors of the Fire Department and they had no idea what was going on.

Oh my, a lone light bulb hanging from a fixture and it was still burning. What makes this a mystery is that the Ohio Edison Company had pulled all electric meters from the building and there was no way this light bulb, yes, one lonely light bulb, should be burning, yet is was.

This is a documented phenomenon to this day. Captain Calvin Roberds wrote in his 1978 history book From Buckets to Diesels, “The source of the power was never found.’’

That lonely light bulb shined until the top three floors were demolished sometime later. I have no explanation of this mystery but I am reminded of Matthew 5:14-16 in the Bible, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

We may wonder how in the world our light shines when we have been through so much. Life can be very difficult and unmanageable but God is the power source of the light each of us has within us and we are to share God’s love and salvation plan with others in whatever form or fashion that may be. After all, it is through our struggles, disappointment, and failures that we learn about God’s grace and become strong through each episode though we don’t understand how God loves us so much. Kind of like our light bulb mystery isn’t it?

Go ahead, let your light shine. Our Lord loves you.

Rev. Dr. Michael Layne is pastor of FaithPoints which meets on Sunday mornings at 9 at Quality Inn, Greensburg. Contact him at

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