March 25 Marks The Anniversary Of Tragic School Fire In Texas Panhandle
March 25 is a somewhat unremarkable day for many. There are no major national holidays. There are no observances to be made on network TV. But for those of us in the Texas panhandle, it marks the anniversary of a devastating moment in history for a nearby college.
March 25 is the day that "Old Main" burned. You could also say the old, Old Main.
Tragedy Strikes A Four-Year-Old College In The Texas Panhandle
In 1910, West Texas State Normal College was established in the Texas panhandle. There was an administration building that housed classrooms, lab, offices, and a library.
Four years after the college was established, tragedy struck. On March 25, 1914, the administration building caught fire. It was a total loss.
The cause of the fire? A workman's torch.
Pushing Through The Tragedy Of March 25
The president of the school at the time is quoted as calling the disaster a "temporary inconvenience." He stressed the point that the school was more than just a building.
Classes had to be held in churches, vacant buildings, and courthouses. There were even temporary shacks built to help provide space for students' studies.
This is how life would be at the college for two years, until the new building was finished and open. It took two years before a new administration building would open.
Georgia O'Keefe Comes To Texas
The new administration building, was completed in 1916. The new building had four stories, and completely outshone its predecessor.
There were offices, classrooms, and a library. However, this building would also house a swimming pool and a gym.
This was also the year that Georgia O'Keefe moved to the Texas panhandle to teach at the college. She would be there for two years.
The School, And That Building, Still Exists Today In Canyon, TX
While the name may not ring a bell, if you live in the Texas panhandle you definitely know the school. Over the years it has gone by a few different names, but today we know it as West Texas A&M University.
Old Main still exists, and you can see it today; a testament to the time that the people of the panhandle determined not to be deterred by tragedy, and instead soldier on.