Chester, PA Military Academy Fire, Feb 1882

Chester PA Millitary Academy.jpg



Chester, Penn., Feb. 16. -- The large and handsome building that stood on a prominence just back of and overlooking this city, known as the Pennsylvania Military Academy, was destroyed by fire this evening between 5 and 9 o'clock. The cadets, 148 in number, had been out drilling, and upon their return they found the third corridor filled with smoke issuing from the laboratory. A bucket gang was at once organized, the line of young men in gray uniforms reaching from a lake some distance from the burning building. Water was thus passed to the flames, but all efforts in this direction failed. The flames spread with great rapidity from the laboratory, which is in the fourth story, in the centre of the building, to the eastern wing. In the meantime the alarm from the City Hall was given, and the entire Fire Department answered. The fire apparatus was greatly delayed owing to the bad condition of the streets, and before they reached the scene of the fire the building was enveloped in flames. The engines finally got water on the burning edifice, but it was useless, except to save surrounding property. The cadets and hundreds of citizens who had gathered set to work in a lively manner, and soon had the Campus strewn with articles of furniture, books, apparatus, provisions, and Government and State property. At 9 o'clock nothing remained but the blackened walls. Most of the cadets succeeded in saving their most valuable personal effects.
The building was erected by a stock company in 1867 at a cost of $125,000, and the school has never had a more prosperous year than the present. The entire loss will reach nearly $200,000, which is partially covered by insurance, the amount of which cannot be ascertained tonight, but will not exceed $75,000. After the flames had finished their work, the cadets, all of whom escaped without an accident, were summoned to the drill hall, when each was given sufficient money by Col. HYATT, the President, to take him home. They represent nearly every State in the Union. What course will be pursued in reference to resuming this year the staff of instructors are unable to say, but a meeting of the Board of Trustees will be held tomorrow to determine this matter. The origin of the fire seems to be enshrouded in mystery, as there was nothing of an explosive nature in the laboratory, but it is thought to be from spontaneous combustion. The fire originated similar to one at Swarthmore College, destroyed a few months ago.

The New York Times New York 1882-02-17