Villanova, PA Dormitories Burned, Jan 1928



Villanova, Pa., Jan. 30 (AP) -- Swept by flames, which for a time threatened the destruction of the entire institution, College Hall, the main building of the Villanova College group, was a mass of ruins today and the monastery, adjoining, was badly damaged. The lofty tower of St. Thomas Church was ignited by flying embers but only slight damage resulted.
Classes were suspended today pending the completion of arrangements for other quarters. Officials were unable to say how long the suspension would last.
Hampered by lack of water and floundering in the deep snow that covered the campus, 24 fire companies from surrounding towns battled the blaze for six hours last night before it was brought under control. Hundreds of students and priests fought side by side with the firemen and some of them risked their lives in salbaging priceless college records and laboratory apparatus.
Many of the college records and valuable scientific instruments were destroyed. Father DANIEL DRISCOLL, procurator, estimated the loss at $2,200,000, not including the personal belongings of the 200 students whose dormitories were on the second and third floors of College Hall. Some of the students lost all of their clothing except what they wore.
In addition to the dormitories, College Hall, a long four-story, U-shaped granite structure of gothic architecture, houses most of the class rooms, lecture halls and laboratories of the institute. On the first floor also were the kitchen and dining room.
Among the valuable articles burned were 30 oil paintings of popes and priests and 100 microscopes used in the biological laboratory. Many other scientific instruments and oil paintings were carried to safety by the students.
The fire started on the fourth floor of the main building from an undetermined cause. Officials of the college expressed the belief that crossed electric wires were responsible. While awaiting the arrival of firemen, delayed by heavy snow drifts, most of the 1,400 students and many priests attacked the fire with hand extinguishers and water buckets but their efforts had little effect on the rapidly spreading flames.
A number of firemen and two students were overcome by smoke and one fireman was seriously injured in a fall from the roof of the monastery. Three firemen trapped on the fourth floor of College Hall leaped 75 feet to a fire net. All three collapsed when they were picked up because of the inhalation of smoke.
Villanova College is conducted by the order of St. Francis, and Father DANIEL A. HERRON, head of the order in the United States, had just returned to his headquarters here from Tulsa, Okla., where another of the Augustinian schools was recently destroyed by fire.

Syracuse Herald New York 1928-01-30