Edwin E. Powell is unofficially known as the "father
of lacrosse" at Maryland. He organized the first
varsity lacrosse team in 1910 and was an avid supporter of
the program as
an alumnus. Powell was a junior in Fall 1912 and witnessed
the fire that devastated the Maryland Agricultural
Powell took many of the photographs that appear on this website, having donated the images to the University of Maryland Libraries many years after the event.
After graduating from M.A.C. in 1913,
Powell became a road builder in Western Maryland and worked
in building construction in New York and Connecticut. He
served 18 months in France during World War I and later
returned to work in management for Mack Truck, the Pennsylvania
and Illinois Bureaus of Public Roads, and for Black &
Edwin Powell, pictured as a sophomore in the 1911 Reveille
We had a civilian inspector -- night watchman -- who watched
two buildings. He was the one who discovered the fire. The
fire was in my senior year.
That was the way I made my extra money. I had charge of
the dining room for the food that they had at the dance.
In the interval between my junior year and senior year, Professor
Spence, who was on the board, sent for me when I was up
on this road job at Beltsville, and he said that he didn't
want me to be waiting on the tables as a senior. So, he
asked me what experience I had with electricity; and I told
him at one time I had worked in a moving picture parlor
and I had taken an electrician's license. Okay, he said,
we'll make you a college electrician. You'll have to supply
the burnt-out bulbs and any short circuits or anything like
that, you'll fix. So, that was the scholarship that I had.
As a result of the fire... We were scattered
into the various homes throughout College Park, Riverdale,
Berwyn, and Hyattsville,
just to get rooms for the boys. There was four of us in
two houses, four in each house, adjacent to each other.
One of them was the Carroll home. On main university drive,
College Drive -- is that what it is called now? ... or
Drive; I don't know which it is. Well, anyway, it's the
main road that went down to the streetcar tracks. The
of us ate at the Carroll home. They supplied the food.
The eight of us decided that, in view of the fact that
was down and the military was all off, and we didn't have
it any more, that we would organize a fraternity. And
the eight of us formed the Gamma Pi Fraternity, which
in 1917 was taken into the Sigma Nu fraternity. At the
time, there's only two of those eight living.
It was just wiped out. The whole thing was wiped... Nobody
had any uniforms or anything, you know. There was a few
of them that were there that managed to get into the trunk
room and throw their trunks out the window. But whether or
not they got their own uniforms or not, I don't know. But
there was very little saved. I saved the college records
-- the kids' records out of the record room -- because that
was on the ground floor, and we got in there. But that was
I don't know whether you remember or whether you've ever
heard about it, but the barracks sat up on the hill there
where the old administration building is, and where the
old dining room is behind it, and out in the front there
was the parade grounds where we drilled. At the end of the
parade grounds there was a great big flagstaff, and on either
side of the flagstaff were two old cannons and two piles
of cannon balls. That's where we played lacrosse, out on
the parade grounds.
~This account was recorded and transcribed from an oral history interview in 1973. Cite as Maryland Manuscript item 1208