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Old Main: Looking back 30 years later

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By TallDavid - Posted on 12 February 2012

Old Main Burns - Photo courtesy SHS University ArchivesThirty years ago this month a fire consumed “Old Main” on the SHSU campus. Many of us remember being rousted out of bed and heading to the hill to watch as flames consumed this historic building. The Houstonian has published an article looking back at that fateful night:

University community members remember the night that a fire destroyed the Old Main building

On one cold night David Clements was walking back to his dorm when he saw smoke billowing out of a historic campus building. Old Main was on fire.

The freshman called the fire department to report what he saw. Firefighters from surrounding cities had to be called in because of limited staff at the Huntsville station. The wood and brick framed building had already been engulfed in flame for 20 min. It was too late to save.

Thirty years ago, on Feb. 12, 1982, Old Main fell for good.

I could see the fire from Fish Hatchery Road,” Huntsville Fire Chief Tom Grisham said. “I could see the glow in the sky. It was well on its way before we even got there.”

That didn’t stop the firefighters, many of whom were volunteers, from risking their health and sanity in the long hours that the fire burned.

We were probably there close to 17 hours,” Grisham, then one of only two paid firefighters, said. “We had to get people from the city to bring us gas to refill the trucks.”

The longer the building was engulfed, the more students, faculty and citizens of the town gathered around to watch their beloved building slowly fall apart.

Read the rest of the story and see all of the photos at The Houstonian.

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