Saturday, December 5, 2009

Dec 5: Fire at Lewiston Normal School

 (Now here’s an interesting coincidence … given the post for yesterday.)

On December 5, 1917, a fire broke out in the east end of the main building of Lewiston State Normal School. (The photo shows the School, today's Lewis Clark State College, in 1915 -- note the presence of only one wing.) It spread rapidly and an east wind pushed the flames into the older central portion, which housed the school’s administrative offices as well as the library.

Construction of the original structure, made of brick trimmed with granite, had begun in 1895, with completion the following year. The east wing, also of brick, was opened in 1906. At the time of the fire, workers were adding a new west wing to the structure. Fire fighters saved the new construction, but despite their best efforts, the fire totally destroyed the east wing and badly damaged the central portion.

With heroic exertions, classes continued in temporary quarters. Workers immediately built a rough frame building to house the east wing functions, and by the following year the older central structure was put back into use. In 1921, the school dedicated a totally new administration building in 1921.

The old building, now called James W. Reid Centennial Hall, was completely renovated after 1991 and is still in full use today. (Reid Centennial Hall: LCSC photo.)

Hiram Taylor French, History of Idaho: A Narrative Account …, Lewis Publishing Co., Chicago and New York (1914).

James H. Hawley, History of Idaho : The Gem of the Mountains, The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, Chicago (1920).

Keith C. Petersen, Educating in the American West: One Hundred Years at Lewis-Clark State College, 1893-1993, © Lewis-Clark State College, Confluence Press, Lewiston, Idaho  (1993).

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