Saxtons River, VT Vermont Academy Fire, Dec 1910

Vermont Academy Campus 1908



Farnsworth Hall Totally Destroyed at Loss of $30,000, While Students Were Home for Christmas Vacation.

Farnsworth hall, one of the main buildings of Vermont academy grounds and aroused Principal Lawson and others. The fire stated from some unknown cause, and it spread rapidly with the help of a strong wind, so the the entire structure was consumed within an hour. No one had been in the building since early in the day, as the students and teachers left Wednesday for their Christmas vacation. All their efforts were burned, with the exception of a few trunks and a little furniture. It is thought that the fire started in the front of the building on the first floor.

A large number of townspeople answered the alarm, but all were helpless. There was no water, because of the present shortage of water, and had there been it were useless to try to save the building itself. All attention was turned to Fuller hall, and every attempt made to insure its safety. A large number of people were set to work carrying the records of the academy and the valuable papers from the school offices to a place of safety. Men armed with fire extinguished were placed all over the building, as all feared that the windows would not stand the strain of the intense heat. It was so hot that the woodwork on the inside of Fuller hall was smoking badly, but fortunately the windows held, and no draft could get through to fan these hot places into flame. The fact that Fuller hall is slate shingled also saved it from catching fire. The articles that had been saved from the burning building were at once moved into Proctor hall.

The fierce wind carried sparks far and wide over the village; and but for a blanket of snow which covered the roof of many houses there would doubtless have caught fire and burned. Saxtons River has no fire department, and had a fire started Thursday night a large number of houses would surely have gone. As it was one dwelling house caught fire on the roof, but was put out with little difficulty, and other minor fires were started. The volunteers were thus kept busy going back and forth between the hill and the village in an attempt to keep the fire confined to its starting place.

The loss is heavy. The building itself was worth $20,000, partly insured. In it were furnishings aggregating from $2000 to $3000. In the basement were many school supplies, stored there for safe keeping. All of these are a dead loss. Associate Principal James I. Taylor lost a library, in addition to may valuable lost a library, in addition to many valuable documents and papers, amounting to more than $1000. Clarence B. Hill of the science department also lost a valuable library, approximating $1000. Luther T. Smith lost many books and valuable papers, as well as other effects. The boys who roomed in this dormitory are John V. Paper, Hiland L. Squire, Hervey Tribolet, the only boy to have anything of value saved, Herbert Lowe, Kenneth Lord, John Trott, S. Gilmore Blankinship, George E. Ober, who lost the least of any one, as he had taken many of the furnishing of his room home with him for vacation. Perry and Hubert Aldrich, Allan White, Richard Parker, Wardner Hayward. Everett Angus, Merrill Whitney, R. Donald Gibson, John Dunlap, Ray Boardman, Alvord Nichols, John Shoftlen, Marvin Bowman, Avedis Miridianian, John Fery, John Currier.

Farnsworth hall, originally the boys' dormitory when the academy was a co-educational school was built in 1880 by private subscription. Among the large givers was John Farnsworth of Saxions River, a prominent manufacturer, who was greatly interested in the work and who gave $10,000. Another large giver a that time was Theophilus Hoit, who gave $5000. Although the blow is a severe one, the academy is in no wise demoralized. All of the students who have been burned out can be accommodated at the beginning of next term. There were no recitation rooms in Farnsworth, and the work of classes will in no way, be retarded. Nothing essential to the running of the academy has been lost, and school will open as usual January 2.

Springfield Republican, Springfield, MA 17 Dec 1910