Normal School at Athens is in Ashes
The Main School Building was Burned This Morning Between Two and Six O'Clock
Fully Covered by Insurance
No Suspension of Work --- Other Rooms Have Been Secured in Town
The main building of the Athens branch of the State Normal school was entirely destroyed by fire early this morning entailing a loss of over $20,000 which was fully covered by insurance. The fire originated in the south end of the building, according to a telephone message from Principal Bemis, and was well under way before it was discovered. The furnace room was located in this part of the building and it is the belief that the fire started in this immediate vicinity. This end of the building was developed in flames when the alarm was sounded. There was a story on the streets here this morning that there was a supposition that incendiarism may have been responsible for the burning, but Principal Bemis filed to confirm this. He stated over the telephone that no conclusion had been reached as to its origin, but that he held to the opinion that the fire started from the furnace, or from the pipes near it.
With the exception of today there will be no suspension of the school. The Thanksgiving holiday vacation begins tomorrow, and there would have been no school anyway until next Tuesday. This gives time to get things straightened out and secure class rooms. Three churches have been secured, the use of the Masonic and Odd Fellows’ halls and one man has offered to fit up ten rooms in a building to aid in carrying on the school work. School will open as usual after the Thanksgiving holiday, and although there will be a considerable handicap, the student body is loyal, and there will be no diminution in the matter of number.
The fire was discovered at 2 0’clock this morning and it burned until 6 before the building was entirely consumed. The bucket brigade turned out and the students lent their assistance, but the primitive methods of fire fighting were not adequate, and it was impossible, owing to the headway to subdue the flames. A considerable amount of the laboratory apparatus and the books of the library were saved.
There are no plans at present in the matter of rebuilding, but it is understood that when the insurance money is collected the building will be replaced at once.
The school has been unusually prosperous this year, the students numbering 235. It was established as a branch of the State Normal School in 1874, and has enjoyed a steady growth since it was founded. It is one of the principal educational institutions in this part of the state, and has done a great work in the matter of educating teachers and building up the general system of schools.
Source: Transcribed from the Bluefield Daily Leader, Issue November 22, 1910.