Fires at Davidson College

Old Chambers

1921: The Fire of Old Chambers

On the morning of November 28, 1921, a fire consumed the Old Chambers building in a little more than six hours.  Nobody was seriously hurt in the fire.  Most of the students were able to recover a fair portion of their belongings, but the building was unable to be saved.  Davidson started a campaign to rebuilt Chambers on September 17, 1922.  The building, which stood approximately where the New Chambers building now stands, was rebuilt over the next several years and completed in 1929.
More Information (primary sources)…
Photographs of Old Chambers before and after the fire…

Fires in Eu (1921) & Phi (1923) Halls

Eu Hall
The Eumenean and Philanthropic Literary Society Halls were built from student-raised funds in 1849 and 1850, completing the historic quadrangle.  The buildings housed the first student organizations at Davidson College and their libraries.  Luckily, the fires in Phi and Eu were small and resulted in very little damage to these historical buildings.
News articles describing the fire…
Phi Hall

Eumenean Hall
Philanthropic Hall

Watts Dorm

1923: The Fire of Watts Dormitory

The first Watts dormitory was built in 1906 and housed 50 students.  On Sunday, February 25, 1923, the compulsory morning worship service was interrupted when a student, Bevo Davis, ran into the church and yelled that Watts was on fire.  The service ended abruptly, and the congregation ran to help put on the fire, which was already on its way to completely destroying the dorm.  Watts was rebuilt that same year with funding from the family of George W. Watts, for whom both buildings are named.
Photographs of Watts during the fire…

Belk Dorm

1991: The Fire in Belk Dormitory’s Basement

On August 6, 1991, sparks from an electrical tool being used in the Belk dormitory basement led to a fire that cause smoke and water damage, but no serious structural destruction to the dormitory.  Unlike the burning of Chambers, classes went along as scheduled while repairs were made.
News articles describing the Belk fire…

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Author: Dustin Edge & Mark Grotjohn
Date: 2001 & 30 June 2006

Cite as: Edge, Dustin and Mark Grotjohn. “Fires at Davidson College ” Davidson Encyclopedia June 2006 <http://libraries.davidson.edu/archives/encyclopedia/fires-at-davidson-college/>

Related Entries: Chambers Building, Dormitories, Eumenean and Philanthropic Literary Societies

Related Links: Davidson College’s Broken Heart: The Burning of Old Chambers (English 101 project)

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