March 13, 1925: Fire in the Engineering Building
Constructed in three phases between 1910-1920, the Engineering Building was one of the first buildings on campus to be completed. Several years later, however, it was destroyed by a fire.
In the early morning hours of March 13, 1925, a fire started in the Engineering Building’s tractor laboratory. The large, open-concept lab space was still quite new, having been added to the building in 1917 as part of an expansion.
Firefighters responded quickly to the site of the fire; however, the water pressure in the area was low. A booster pump was used, but ultimately the water supply was soon exhausted, leaving the building in smoky shambles. One area that withstood the fire was the ceramics lab, as it was lined with fire bricks to withstand heat from a kiln.
Reconstruction began soon after. A new steel frame was built, replacing the wooden post and beam structure used in the original construction. The concrete foundation was salvaged and re-used, as were some pieces of brick and windows.
The cause of the fire was never determined.
With files from University Archives and Special Collections.