Henderson-Brown College 1914 Fire















The morning of February 3, 1914 Henderson-Brown College building and grounds superintendent, James B. Garrett discovered a small kitchen fire in the Main Building.  He immediately sounded the alarm.  The fire was small enough that if Garrett had access to water and had assistance it would have been easily controlled; however, the flame grew rapidly in size and strength.



 Bennie Gene Bledsoe, author of "Henderson State University:  Education Since 1890 Volume 1" wrote,


"The vital, immediate concern was to evacuate the scores of girls from the third-floor dormitory…The girls stood in their nightclothes watching the building burn, while the College boys "invaded the burning dormitory and began the work of saving the possessions of the girl students."  They formed salvage lines and rushed trunk after trunk

along the sidewalk leading from the College to the street.  Many of these "boys risked their lives in this work, but they saved nearly every trunk in the building." In addition, they had saved "the entire library, consisting of thousands of  volumes, the trophies of athletic field, silver cups won on debates and more than a dozen pianos."


By the time the Fire Department arrived the building was engulfed in flames and unsalvageable.  The next morning, the student gathered under the pines to have their morning chapel on February 4; President Crowell announced again that the school would be rebuilt and the students sang and shouted spirited school songs.  


Today, a surviving relic of the fire can be view on the Henderson State University South Lawn. The bell from the tower can be viewed from Henderson Street.


For the full story of the Henderson-Brown Fire, the "Henderson State University:  Education Since 1890 Volume 1" by Bennie Gene Bledsoe is available in the Huie Library Arkansas Collection.

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