Wait Hall Destroyed by Fire
Building Nearly Century Old Is Now Mass of Ashes
WAKE FOREST ALUMNI NEWS, May 1933
An early morning fire of undetermined origin destroyed the historical Wake Forest College Administration building two weeks ago. Every effort made by the students and the fire departments of Wake Forest, Raleigh Louisburg, Henderson Franklinton and elsewhere to check the blaze. But it had made such headway before its discovery that the students rooming in the traditional Eu and Phi Ends could hardly more than escape with their lives through the stifling smoke.
Just where the fire started is not known but it is thought that it had its origin on the top floor. The fire was discovered between 2:30 and 3:00 o'clock by students rooming in Eu and Phi Ends who gave the alarm. Most of the students escaped to safety by way of the stairs through the almost impassable smoke. Two boys, it is said, were forced to flee from the fourth floor of Eu End by means of a rope which had been placed there years ago to be used in case of such an emergency.
The flames spread quickly from the middle section. The fire had gained such headway in the office and classroom section that only the brick walls remained. It was held in check enough to prevent its burning beyond the rooms of the second floor.
Phi End was not damaged quite as badly as Eu End as the wind blew somewhat from the west and water was shot on that end of the building before the fire had made much of a start.
All records except those of the present student body are thought to be without damage in a safe which was in a little room adjoining the registrar's office. Water was shot on and about this safe as well as the one in the bursar's office in an effort to protect them. The safety vault in the bursar's office, in which there were many valuable records and some money, withstood the fire and heat. The office of President Kitchin was burned out. In the adjoining room, which was used by the President for conferences most of the letters and files, if not all were destroyed. The bell which has called students to classes for many years is somewhere in the mass of ruins the central section of the building. The caps and gowns which had been used by the graduating classes each year were charred causing a loss estimated to be about $1,000.
About eleven o'clock the next morning the walls were being torn down to prevent any danger of falling walls. Dr. Kitchin says that construction on a new building will probably begin soon after the meeting of the board of trustees in June and will probably be completed in time for the next session which is the hundredth session of the college.
Some insurance will be collected. About ten days ago Bursar E. B. Earnshaw and Mr. V. O. Parker went over the grounds and Mr. Earnshaw stated that he believed the building was revalued at $60,000.
Although some insurance will be collected, the loss in the burning of the Administration Building which had stood for almost a century is inestimable. Construction on the building was begun in 1835 and it was completed about 1837.
Only charred ruins now remain of the building which leaves behind a great and noble history. No structure can replace the beauty and thought which is embedded in the minds of hundreds who have entered its portals. The building in all its magnificence and splendor has been the shelter and classrooms of many great men who have left its sacred halls. Although now in ashes its glory shall long remain.