Hanover, NH South Hall Fire, July 1888



Hanover, N. H., July 11. -- This old college town narrowly escaped a serious calamity early this morning. About 1:30 o'clock fire was discovered in a stable adjoining the large building known as South Hall, which, since the fire in January of last year, has been used as a hotel. This building was of wood, as are all the buildings on the west side of Main street. The hotel was soon in flames, and the guests, hurriedly awakened, were forced to fly clad only in their night dresses. The opening of the annual course of lectures in the Dartmouth Medical College which occures on Wednesday had brought to the hotel an unusually large number of guests for this season. As the fire swept through the building, which was a veritable tinder box, some of the guests barely escaped with their lives. Only the squealing of the pigs roasting in the burning barn saved the life of S. H. CARNEY, a medical student from New York City. His room was filled with smoke when this unusual noise roused him, and he only had time to get his clothing and rush with it into the street. Landlord PURMONT rushed through the house awaking the guests, and his promptness certainly saved the lives of two Dartmouth graduates, LOUIS BELL of Class of '84, and F. H. CHASE, Class of '83.
The wife and two children of DR. P. O'CONNOR of Cincinnati, Professor of Surgery in the medical department, were among the guests, and lost a large amount of valuable baggage, saving only one trunk. DR. O'CONNOR himself had not arrived, as he comes from Cincinnati via Fortress Monroe. The village furnishes but two hand fire engines, and for some time it was anticipated that the entire section of the village, including the business portion of Main street was doomed. Assistance was asked for from adjoining towns, but before help arrived the fire was under control. Profs. EMERSON, WORTHEN, and LORD halped to man the brakes on the fire tubs, and handled hose on the burning house tops like veteran firemen.
These seems to be little doubt that the fire was of incendiary origin, and the Selectmen of Hanover today offered a reward for the detection of the criminal. Besides the hotel building and adjoining barn and stable fire destroyed P. H. WHITCOMB'S residence and barn a two-story tenement house and barns owned by Dartmouth College, and CHARLES B. CLIFFORD'S dwelling and barn.
As all the burned buildings were of wood, the total loss will not be much over $16,000, which was fairly covered by insurance. The live stock burned comprised two horses, two cows, and 10 hogs.

The New York Times New York 1888-07-12