The Great Fire, Maryland Agriculture College, 1912

Kenneth Grace

Kenneth Grace left campus for Thanksgiving in November 1912, but remembers how the fire affected his time at Maryland Agricultural College.

Kenneth Grace standing
Kenneth Grace, pictured as a senior at M.A.C. in the 1915 Reveille yearbook
I came down home on the weekends and somebody called me up around here or told me that they had a big fire over there at College Park. And then when I went back up there, the old barracks, that was a big, white building -- looked kind of like a castle, you know -- well, it was just about a shell up there, and all smoked up and everything like that. And the school just grouped us together, I think by classes, and got room and board for us down in Hyattsville...

... Somebody around here told me about it that heard from it, see? Because I didn't think anything particular about it and I had no reaction a whole lot as to what would happen or anything like that. See, I was awful young when I went up there, I guess, so fine for me, anything like that.

And we went right on to classes. They had it pretty well organized.

Of course when I came home for the weekend I packed up right good, and I had everything like clothing and things like that, but I certainly didn't remember... didn't lose anything valuable because I didn't have anything valuable. I didn't even have a watch or anything, but I guess some did. I'm sure they did.

We, at one time, when we got into this big, what is it -- this new building, Calvert Hall. I had a nice room there and I had a great big square trunk; and of course we went up to school there in the fall and the hills were just full of apple orchards and things like that, and a great many of them were experiments, carrying on and everything, so I used to go out, and lots of others -- I'm not the only one, they were all there -- and loaded up with apples and slip in later on and stow them away. And I'd put mine in my big trunk. Well, anybody later on could walk in that room, they could smell apples all over the place, see? But they didn't fuss about it. And so it was all right, those apples. They just gradually aged until they were almost cider, but they were apples. And then I used to get into everything, 'pert near.

Like going up in the science hall one night. Before we went up there we saw some beautiful apples there on big tables at least this wide and maybe from here to the window. They were specimen apples, they helped us teach horticulture to fellows going to classes. So, one night we decided that we ought to get over there and get some of those apples and eat them. Boy, we got in there all right, no trouble at all, it was practically open anyhow, got in there, reached in to a beautiful, big apple, took a bite in it -- wax! The whole thing was wax. But they were well made, but there were things like that.

You remember the old chemistry building; well, right along side of it was that brick building, gymnasium we called it, and they had a few things like basketball cages -- what is it?-- and all that; but we would run around there, around and around and around this floor, you know, and lifting our knees up and down.

~This account was recorded and transcribed from an oral history interview in 1973. Cite as Maryland Manuscript item 1202

<<<Back to Personal Accounts

University of Maryland Libraries home University of Maryland home contact University Archives University of Maryland College Park home privacy policy