PEORIA- Saturday marks the 50 year anniversary of an infamous fire at Bradley University's Bradley Hall.
Ruth Jass and Edward King came back to the campus they once both worked and attended as students. Standing inside Bradley Hall they recalled the night the building went up in flames.
"It was in the evening I got a call at home at home from President Van Arsdale saying, get over here, Bradley Hall's on fire and we might be able to save your records. I got here 10 minutes later and the whole building was ablaze," Jass said; she used to be the university's registrar.
King was Dean of Men at the time.
"The water damage was just incredible. I lost everything in my office," he said.
King said the feeling was "very surreal you know, to see this fire coming out, and as it would build up windows would burst out."
Jass said there wasn't anything anyone could say or do.
"Firemen tried, but it was 10 below zero at the time," Jass said.
The water from the firetrucks froze, encasing the building in a layer of ice.
"There were icicles everywhere," Jass said.
King said the next day it "was eerie as you stood there and looked at that building, and holy cow."
While the front entrance was rebuilt to look the same as it did in 1963, the inside of Bradley Hall has been remodeled.
"It's, you know, your not aware you're in the same building, it's totally different," King said.
Looking back King said the fire was terrible, but in the end it made Bradley stronger.
"Exciting time in a way because we saw people really come together. Takes things like that sometimes to really realize what a good community we have."
Thanks to generous donations from the community, Bradley hall was rebuilt, although Jass said it took about five years to get student records straight.
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