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Hill destroyed by fire – 100 years ago

On Nov. 4, 1913, the largest building on the ONU campus burned. By morning only the outside walls of the three-story Hill Building were still standing.

Originally built in 1879 as the administration building, Hill also housed classrooms and the rooms of the Franklin and Philomathean literary societies, which held the school’s earliest library collections.

The 1913 fire was not the first to scar the building. On Dec. 23, 1889, a student searching for lamp oil apparently triggered a blaze that devoured waste paper, kindling, most of a barrel of oil and 30 tons of coal, but left the building with little more than smoke and water damage.

The far more destructive blaze of Nov. 4, 1913, was discovered about 2 a.m. No official cause was found.  Only the outer walls remained, but the decision was made to rebuild. The resulting new Hill Memorial Building was two floors, constructed on an internal iron frame. Today it is still in use and houses classrooms and offices for the department of history, politics, and justice and the department of psychology and sociology.

See the current photo display at Heterick Memorial Library.