Main Engineering Building fire

Main Engineering Building fire

Main Engineering Building fire

On the evening of Nov. 25, 1918, flames broke out in the rear of the Main Engineering Building, and despite the valiant efforts of Penn State's own student fire brigade and those of the borough's Alpha Fire Company, the structure soon became a roaring inferno. Wind-whipped embers threatened to ignite other buildings until additional firemen from Bellefonte and Tyrone arrived to confine the fire to the Engineering Building and adjacent power plant. The wall of the steam whistle at the power plant first sounded the alarm and then continued throughout the night, a fitting accompaniment to the awful destruction of the architectural capstone of the entire campus. Morning light found the Main Engineering Building a smoking hulk and the University without steam heat and electric power. Classes were canceled for a few days while utilities were restored, but it was not clear how the University would cope with the loss of one of its most important academic structures, one providing classrooms for hundreds of students and containing thousands of dollars worth of laboratory equipment.

IMAGE: Penn State University Archives
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