Dartmouth Hall Gutted and Destroyed by Flames - 1935

Submitted 2 years ago
Created by
Michael Hinsley

Today in Hanover and Dartmouth College History April 25, 1935

Dartmouth Hall, the earliest icon of Dartmouth College was consumed by fire again April 25, 1935.

This devastating fire was one of three fires that struck the Dartmouth Campus the night of April 20 1935. Two other piles of combustibles were discovered before being ignited.

The "new" Dartmouth Hall was rebuilt with masonry construction after the devastating fire that completely destroyed the old wooden structure on February 18 1904. The fire was first discovered at 1:20 am on an upper level of the North wing of the building. After an apparent delay of reporting the fire due to confusion of the residents the fire department arrived and hose lines were quickly placed and put into operation. The fire reports indicate that initially the fire was believed to be contained in the upper floor of the north wing. The true extent of the fire spread revealed itself to the fire department when partitions and floors erupted in flames.

The firefighters realizing the fire was running in the walls, moved to the basement and efforts to quench the flames while initially successful did not dampen the spread of the fire through vertical chases and  inaccessible shafts. As reports of the windows on the second floor windows all glowing orange with fire Hanover Fire Chief C. H. Lewin ordered the firefighters to work from the outside for fear of loss of life.

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The fire quickly spread towards the front of the building and the fire quickly spread vertically and soon the roof and base of the bell tower was ablaze.

Members of the Hanover Fire Department utilize a handline inside Dartmouth Hall April 25, 1935. Please consider that breathing apparatus for the fire service was really not available until 1945 and would not be utilized by all fire department for another 3 decades. 

The Bell survived the fire and sits in the belfry of Dartmouth Hall today

Members of the Dartmouth Undergraduate Fire Brigade as well as other students, faculty and townspeople volunteered to assist the members of the Hanover Volunteer Fire Department fight the flames. Much of these efforts included manning ground monitors, moving hose, and helping gaining access for large fire streams by throwing rocks to break the glass window panes.

A member of the Dartmouth Undergraduate Fire Brigade wearing his "Crimson Beanie" indicating his membership in the fire brigade

Members of the Dartmouth Undergraduate Fire Brigade pose for Annual Photo.

The water for firefighting was provided through improvements in the Hanover Water Company Water Supply System. This 1930 Map describes the system and capabilities

                        Old Glory as seen through the burned out Clock face of Dartmouth Hall
Webster Hall as seen through the burnt window opening of Dartmouth Hall April 1935. Webster Hall is now the Home of Rauner Library and the special collections of Dartmouth College. The collection includes these photos and an amazing amount of other resources.
Looking to the Northwest, Baker Tower in view on the right

The Dartmouth Hall Bell survived the inferno.

Looking to the Northeast, Richardson and North Fayerweather Hall

Tower and Cupola Detail drawn by Jens Frederick Larsen

Reconstruction well under way. The new Bell tower framework in place.

Panoramic view from current Dartmouth Hall

Photo Credits to Dartmouth College Rauner Library The coolest place on campus.
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