Fires at Davidson College
On the morning of November 28, 1921, a fire consumed the Old Chambers building in a little more than six hours. Nobody was seriously hurt in the fire. Most of the students were able to recover a fair portion of their belongings, but the building was unable to be saved. Davidson started a campaign to rebuilt Chambers on September 17, 1922. The building, which stood approximately where the New Chambers building now stands, was rebuilt over the next several years and completed in 1929.
The Eumenean and Philanthropic Literary Society Halls were built from student-raised funds in 1849 and 1850, completing the historic quadrangle. The buildings housed the first student organizations at Davidson College and their libraries. Luckily, the fires in Phi and Eu were small and resulted in very little damage to these historical buildings.
The first Watts dormitory was built in 1906 and housed 50 students. On Sunday, February 25, 1923, the compulsory morning worship service was interrupted when a student, Bevo Davis, ran into the church and yelled that Watts was on fire. The service ended abruptly, and the congregation ran to help put on the fire, which was already on its way to completely destroying the dorm. Watts was rebuilt that same year with funding from the family of George W. Watts, for whom both buildings are named.
On August 6, 1991, sparks from an electrical tool being used in the Belk dormitory basement led to a fire that cause smoke and water damage, but no serious structural destruction to the dormitory. Unlike the burning of Chambers, classes went along as scheduled while repairs were made.
Author: Dustin Edge & Mark Grotjohn
Date: 2001 & 30 June 2006
Cite as: Edge, Dustin and Mark Grotjohn. “Fires at Davidson College ” Davidson Encyclopedia June 2006 <https://digitalprojects.davidson.edu/omeka/s/college-archives-davidson-encyclopedia/page/fires-at-davidson-college>