Minneapolis, MN University Old Main Building Fire, Sep 1904

aa 9242904 Minneapolis fire Old Main



The old stone main building of the state university was destroyed by fire early yesterday morning. The structure was the oldest on the campus, having been erected over half a century ago, and it is a mass of ruins.
The walls have fallen in and the total damage is estimated at about $125,000. There are many records and manuscripts which never can be replaced.
The building was the home of the departments of mathematics, rhetoric, Greek, pedagogy, Latin, French and German, and was also the residence of Capt. Guild, the custodian of the institution.
Nothing was saved except the desk of the postmaster and the mail.
Fire was discovered shortly after 5 o'clock yesterday morning, and when Capt. Guild and his family were awakened the structure was wrapped in flames. The fire department was called, but owing to the fact that the streets in that locality were blocked with paving material firemen were delayed in reaching the scene.

Valuable Books Burned.
The building was valued at about $80,000 and was insured for $60,500. There was an insurance on the contents of about $6,500. The German library of 3,000 volumes is a total loss, and it is claimed this library was worth at least $30,000. Profs. J. G. Moore and Carl Slonaker lost valuable notes and other material, which cannot be replaced.
Dean J. E. Downey, head of the department of mathematics, lost all the material he has collected in the last thirty years, and will not be able to replace it.
The loss in the Greek and Latin departments is estimated at $15,000 each, according to the statements of the heads of these departments.
Prof. Maria L. Sanford has lost her private library and other material, such as lantern slides, which she values at $800.

Classes Arranged For.
The destruction of the building will not interfere with class work, for Dean Downey, who is the head of the institution in the absence of President Northrop, appointed a committee to arrange for class rooms in other buildings. The armory, the Y.M.C.A. building and other halls can be used temporarily.
The building destroyed was started in 1851, when the legislature appropriated $40,000 for a state school.
The structure was completed in 1857, but, as there were no funds for furnishing or the employment of instructors, it lay unoccupied until about 1867, except as some stray horse or cow made its quarters in the basement.
In 1867 John S. Pillsbury succeeded in securing an appropriation from the legislature, and the building was cleaned out and furnished and instructors were engaged.
In 1873 the college was established and an appropriation secured for the enlargement of the old stone building and the construction of an additional building on the campus.

An Old Landmark.
The work was completed at once, and the old building which was burned yesterday has the same outward exterior appearance it did in 1875.
It is believed the fire was caused by some person dropping a match in a wastepaper basket or in some corner. It has not been difficult for students who desired to enter the building in the night time to do so, for the reason the windows had insecure fastenings, and as it has been the custom of the distributors of the Minnesota Daily, the university paper, to call early in the morning for the purpose of putting copies of the paper in the post office boxes, it has been the practice of the night watchman to unlock the doors on his last round.
The night watchman says he inspected the building about 5 o'clock, visited other structures and then went home. He had hardly reached his bed when he was informed the building was afire.
Capt. Guild, the custodian of the university buildings, sustains a loss of $5,000 on household furniture, with an insurance of only $1,000.

Saint Paul Globe Minnesota 1904-09-25