Maryland College Swept by Fire
Fire, which is supposed to have started as the result of defective electric wiring, recently destroyed the original college building erected in 1856 and the new administration building at the Maryland Agricultural College at College Park, Md., causing a loss estimated to be between $150,000 and $175,000. That the entire group of college buildings was not destroyed was due to the diligent efforts of the Hyattsville fire company, scores of the college cadets and officials and residents of College Park. Two engine companies from Washington were rushed on a special train to the scene, but arrived too late to save the doomed buildings. The loss caused by the fire is said to be practically covered by insurance.
The fire was discovered about 10.30 p. m. in the attic of tile administration building. The Thanksgiving dance of the Koseberg Club, composed of cadets of the college, was in progress in the old cottage building adjoining at the time. The cadets and their guests were in the mess hall in the basement of the building at supper when the flames were discovered. At the cry of “Fire!” a rush was made for the doors and a panic was averted by the assurance from the officials of the college that there was no danger. As soon as the cadets had escorted their guests from the old building they dashed into the administration building adjoining and began fighting the flames. Only about forty of the 250 students of the college were on hand, the majority of them having returned to their homes during the Thanksgiving holiday. It was soon seen that it would be impossible to get control of the flames, and the cadets accordingly turned their attention to saving the contents of the rooms in the other portions of the buildings. While the cadets were fighting the flames with hand apparatus and a single hose from a hydrant in the basement of the building, the volunteer fire department of Hyattsville of about twenty members reached the college. The run from Hyattsville to the college was made in record time, the apparatus having been attached to the rear of an automobile. By the time the volunteer firemen arrived the administration building was a mass of flames and the old college building adjoining was afire. With an inadequate water supply the saving of the historic structure was impossible. It sufficed, however, to save Science Hall, located about 100 feet from the new building, which was in imminent danger several times. When the news of the fire reached Washington, fire headquarters immediately made arrangements with the Baltimore & Ohio railroad for the transportation of the two engines. The order delegating engines Nos. 3 and 12 came in at 11.30 o’clock, and the engines, loaded on two gondolas, with an extra box car for equipment, left at 11.45 o’clock. The men who accompanied No. 3 engine were Capt. Reynolds. Lieut. Lusby, Engineer Sullivan, Assistant Engineer Demming. Driver Kinsinger, Assistant Driver Gates and Privates Hollidge, Hamback, Wissman. Harper and Trainor. Those with No. 12 were Capt. McConnell, Lieut. Barker, Assistant Engineer Dixon. Driver O’Brien, Assistant Driver Fought and Privates Carroll and Moore. The Washington firemen did not arrive at the college until well after midnight. The old building and the administration building were wrecked by that time. When they felt certain that there was no danger of the fire spreading to the other college buildings the Washington firemen returned to that city. A few minutes after 10 o’clock on the following morning the walls of the original college building collapsed. Fortunately, no one was close to the ruins at the time. The new administration building was erected in 1905, under an act of the Maryland legislature, and cost approximately $75,000. including equipment and furniture. In this building was located the offices of the president and treasurer, and the room for the meetings of the trustees of the institution, and assembly hall, in which commencement exercises and social functions were held was in this building. The upper floor was devoted to dormitories. In the old building was located the commandant’s quarters, mess hall and study rooms, as well as quarters for a few of the professors and their families. The latter lost most of their furniture and other effects.