Today we share the second photograph in our From the Archives series. This photo shows a moment that changed the face of Purdue’s campus.
What exactly is happening in this image and what was its result?
On Jan. 19, 1894, Purdue dedicated a new mechanical engineering laboratory building on campus named after benefactor Amos Heavilon. The new structure was the pride of campus with state-of-the-art equipment and an eye-catching tower. Only four days after its dedication, however, a gas explosion in the boiler room sparked a fire that quickly spread throughout the building. Helpless crowds gathered to watch Purdue’s newest building burn to the ground. Aside from a few salvaged pieces of machinery, the building was a total loss.
The day after the fire, Purdue President James H. Smart drew upon the imagery of the Heavilon tower and vowed that it would be rebuilt “one brick higher.” Thanks to generous donations and fundraising efforts, the second Heavilon Hall was dedicated on December 4, 1895, less than two years after the fire. Ever since Smart’s speech in 1894, “one brick higher” has been a rallying cry spurring the Purdue community to ever greater heights.
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