The College Hall fire

The architectural style of URI’s early days are a bit castle-chic. You can see the basic footprint of URI’s first buildings on the side of the quad that includes Taft, Davis and what is now Carlotti but was at one time South Hall.

URI’s “agricultural experiment station” was built as part of a national initiative (the Hatch Act of 1887) to create a network of research centers affiliated with land-grant universities, supporting and enhancing agricultural and food production. Today the Rhode Island Agricultural Experiment Station is still researching, along with 49 other stations across the country. Later named Taft Hall for Governor Royal C. Taft, the building was the first constructed for the school on the old Oliver Watson farmstead (to learn more about the Watson farm and house, read yesterday’s post) and it provided living quarters and lab space for agriculture faculty. 

(photo via URI Digital Commons)

Taft was then joined by College Hall.

(photo via “History and Timeline of URI

College Hall housed URI’s first library

(photo via URI Digital Commons)

South Hall (on right, with Taft on the right and College in the middle)

(photo via URI Digital Commons)

South Hall was demolished in 1958. The Carlotti administration building stands in its place

(photo via URI Digital Commons)

and the Ladd Laboratories

(photo via “History and Timeline of URI”)

But crisis was about to strike. In 1895, College Hall caught fire. The flames quickly ripped through the building.

As the “History and Timeline of URI" explains

On Sunday, January 27, 1895 , while most of the young men and faculty were at church, College Hall caught on fire. With wind blowing at 40 miles an hour, the building was consumed in forty-five minutes. The institution had received a staggering blow. However, with united effort, faculty and students set themselves to the task of rehabilitating the college. The report of President Washburn bears the following testimony, “Within a week after the fire we had completed the carpenter shop; in two weeks we built the barracks, also a building for laboratory and classroom work in botany ——- all temporary buildings”

Only a shell of the building remained after the fire. Here, you can see planks holding up the wall on the right.

(photo via URI Digital Commons)

The university and surrounding community banded together to rebuild College Hall, which is now Davis Hall (home to two Beauty Salonistas and the Department of Communication Studies!).

(photo via URI Digital Commons)

In 1897, Lippitt Hall was completed.

(photo via “Timeline and History of URI”)

(photo via URI Digital Commons)

Lippitt, with South, Taft and a rebuilt Davis

(photo via the New England Wireless and Steam Museum)

The engine room in the cellar of Lippitt, that provided that university’s electricity

(photo via the New England Wireless and Steam Museum)

A 25 horsepower engine, built by Nichols and Langworthy Machine Company in Hope Vally, from the Lippitt cellar. The engine can be seen on display in the New England Wireless and Steam Museum.

(photo via URI Campus Planning and Design)

Lippitt is now the jewel of the URI quad, having been fully renovated in 2008

Bonus picture, because of all the awesome: Ye Olde URI shuttle, from the train station to campus

(photo via URI Digital Commons)

  1. beautysalonuri reblogged this from agonism and added:
    The architectural style of URI’s early days was a bit castle-chic, all rough stone and turrets. You can see the basic...
  2. agonism reblogged this from kakotechnia and added:
    The architectural style of URI’s early days are a bit castle-chic. You can see the basic footprint of URI’s first...
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