1923 - STATE NORMAL SCHOOL DAMAGED BY FIRE. FARMVILLE COLLEGE FOR GIRLS SUFFERS LOSS OF $200,000.
WING OF MAIN BUILDING COMPLETELY DESTROYED - NEARLY FIVE HUNDRED WOMEN-STUDENTS ROUTED FROM SLEEP -
ALL ESCAPED UNINJURED - FIREMEN CALLED FROM OTHER CITIES BUT WERE TURNED BACK WHEN FIRE WAS CONTROLLED.
(By The Associated Press.)
Farmville, Va., Nov. 17. - Between 450 and 500 women students at the State Normal School here were routed from their sleep early today by a fire which destroyed a wing of the main building with an estimated loss of $200,000. Of the 800 students enrolled at the school, more than half of them were housed in the main building and about 100 of these in the rear wing. All were gotten to safety however, without any injury and with the loss of only a few of their personal belongings.
The fire was discovered at 4:30 o'clock this morning by a night watchman and a matron who, in making their rounds, saw smoke coming from the end of the dining room near the kitchen. An alarm was immediately sounded and with little confusion the occupants of the building marched to safety. The exit of those in the wing over the dining room necessarily was, heavy, however, and few of them had time to gather their clothing and other belongings. The blaze then spread rapidly.
From a closet near the kitchen the flames shot through the dining room and kitchen, then to the upper floors and became so menacing within an hour that appeals for assistance were telephoned to the fire departments at Lynchburg, Petersburg and Richmond. The two former responded, but before the special trains carrying the apparatus could reach here the fire was gotten under control by the local department and the Lynchburg and Petersburg contingents were turned back at Crewe.
The appeal to the Richmond department was cancelled before the apparatus there could be loaded aboard a special train. The rear wing of the main building a three story, brick structure valued at $500,000 was totally destroyed and considerable damage was done by smoke and water to the other sections. The loss is covered by the $300,000 insurance carried on the building.
Governor E. Lee Trinkle, Mrs. Trinkle and Colonel Leroy T. Hodges, director of the state budget, and Dr. J. L. Jarman, superintendent of the Normal School here, who was in Richmond attending hearings on the budget for 1923-24, hastened here by automobile when news of the fire reached the capital. The fire had been almost extinguished when they arrived here and the executive lost no time in having the students assembled in the school auditorium and assuring them the structure would be rebuilt as quickly as possible. The young women were told that the school would be closed until after Thanksgiving, and they began immediately to make plans for leaving for their homes today.
Considerable concern was experienced among several Danville families early this morning when reports were current of the damage done by fire to the Farmville State Normal. Several Danville girls are enrolled there and until news came that all of the students were safe some little anxiety was felt.
A number of calls came as early as seven o'clock to the Bee office asking for information. The Associated Press wire which opened at eight o'clock promptly furnished a brief statement to the effect that no lives had been lost and it was possible to relieve the anxiety of several fathers and mothers.
Several of the girls telephoned to their parents at once saying that they were safe but had lost all or part of their effects. Others were more fortunate and reported they had succeeded in getting out their trunks. First reports were that the girls would remain at Farmville if another building could be secured but that if arrangements were not concluded the girls would come home.
Among the girls from Danville at Farmville are MISS ANNIE MURRAY, MISS FLORENCE BOOTH, MISS JANIE MOORE, MISS MARGARET TOWNES, MISS WILMA WILLIAMS and MISS ELIZABETH WESTBROOKS.
November 17, 1923
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