Easton, PA Lafayette College Fire, Dec 1897

Easton PA Pardee Hall Lafayette College.jpg

FIRE AT LAFAYETTE COLLEGE.

NEW PARDEE HALL PARTLY DESTROYED -- VALUABLE COLLECTIONS AND APPARATUS BURNED -- WARD LIBRARY GONE.

Easton, Penn., Dec. 18. -- Pardee Hall, the magnificent four-story stone structure that stood on the brow of College Hill, this city, and was the pride of Lafayette College, was badly damaged by fire early this morning. Only the east wing was saved from the flames.
Besides the damage to the building, there were thousands of dollars worth of valuable property belonging to professors at the college destroyed by the flames. Of the latter, a heavy portion falls on J. MADISON PORTER, Professor of Civil and Topographical Engineering. His machinery, instruments, &c., were valued at $15,000, on which there was no insurance. DR. T. C. PORTER'S botanical collection, probably the finest in the United States, and the result of DR. PORTER'S life work, was also destroyed. The Ward Library, consisting of 10,000 volumes of valuable books, is in the smouldering ruins, along with a valuable museum of minerals and birds.
The fire was discovered at 5 o'clock this morning, but it had evidently been burning a long time. The flames had already gained great headway. Alarms were sent out in rapid succession, and soon the entire Fire Department was on the hill. By this time, however, the east wing of the building was a mass of seething flames. The flames raged so fiercely and spread so rapidly, aided by a stiff wind from the west, that for three hours the work of the firemen was of no avail. Then aid came from Phillipsburg, N. J., across the Delaware River, and in another hour the flames were under control.
The students turned out, and, under the direction of PROF. MARSH, JR., they succeeded in carrying from the building many valuable instruments, books, experimental plants, &c.
The fire originated in the biological laboratory on the second floor of the west wing. It is believed to have been started by a defective gas burner under an incubator.
Pardee Hall consisted of one centre building five stories in height, 53 feet front and 83 feet deep, and two lateral wings, one on each side of the centre building, measuring 61 feet in length and 31 in width, four stories in height.
The old Pardee Hall was destroyed in 1879, and the structure which was burned today was built in 1880.

The New York Times New York 1897-12-19