ST. LOUIS, MO (AP) -- A 107-year-old St. Louis building that houses rare manuscripts was badly damaged in a fire, but the museum's owner says the manuscripts were spared and he plans to rebuild.

The fire broke out Tuesday night at the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. At least 80 firefighters responded as flames shot out through the roof and smoke poured from windows.

No one was injured. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The museum is the 13th branch in a system created by California collectors David and Marsha Karpeles in 1983. The St. Louis branch opened in 2015.

Exhibits are rotated among branches. David Karpeles said in an email to The Associated Press on Wednesday that current exhibits included one devoted to the Cuban revolution and another related to St. Louis history.

Karpeles said the director of the museum, Kerry Manderbach, was able to enter the building during the fire and remove all of the manuscripts. Firefighters helped remove statues and other items.

Though the rear of the building and the upper floor were badly damaged, Karpeles said he plans to rebuild as soon as possible.

Manderbach told the Post-Dispatch that the manuscripts were largely housed on the first floor. The documents were all in protective cases or files, and the fire department tried not to soak them while fighting the upstairs fire, he said.

The building, a six-columned brick-and-stone church with arching stained-glass windows, sits on a block of mansions, luxury apartments and grand old homes. The structure was originally built as the Third Church of Christ, Scientist.

Previously, the St. Louis museum has displayed a Gutenberg Bible, the Confederate Constitution, a map from the Spanish Armada, Babe Ruth's first baseball contract, the first draft of the Bill of Rights, and Columbus' handwritten letter describing the coasts of America in his last voyage of discovery.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.