Looking back: Fire!


Photo: Photo courtesy of EWU Archives, SPC 996-0418.

The State Normal School at Cheney Administration building engulfed in flames as it burns to the ground on April 24, 1912. No one was seriously injured in the fire.

By Dylan Harris, News Editor

EWU has an unfortunate history when it comes to structure fires. Pictured here is the State Normal School at Cheney (present day EWU) Administration building as it burned to the ground on April 24, 1912. The building, along with the school’s records and library, were destroyed in the fire.

This wasn’t the first or last serious fire EWU has dealt with. In 1891, the Benjamin P. Cheney Academy building was also destroyed in a fire. This fire happened in the midst of an addition to the building that was intended to make more room for the State Normal School at Cheney.

In April 1977, the old Fieldhouse also met its demise when it caught fire and burned to the ground. The Fieldhouse was already in the process of being dismantled, so this fire didn’t have quite the impact that the previous two had on staff and students.

Thankfully, nobody was killed or seriously injured in any of these fires. Fire prevention has come a long way over the years, and hopefully structure fires at EWU remain a thing of the past.


Text: Historical information courtesy of Charles V. Mutschler and Jay W. Rea, “Chronology of the History of Eastern Washington University” (2018).