Disaster Brings About An ECU Tradition

Source: University Archives, UW0000/2

East Carolina Teachers Training School dining hall after 1915 fire.

East Carolina Teachers Training School dining hall after 1915 fire.

Staff Person: Nanette Hardison


This photo is of the reconstruction of the Old Cafeteria, which was originally known as the Refectory. Sometime during the night of April 1, 1915, the Old Cafeteria’s roof caught on fire. Both the roof and the upper part of the building were completely destroyed, but the walls were left in good condition and the cold storage plant was damaged only slightly and only by water. The dining room furniture was saved. Before the fire was out, President Wright had called the student body together in the auditorium at midnight. He asked the students to all go home for the Easter holiday and take an entire week, which was the first Spring Break, since there was no way to feed the students. The townspeople of Greenville made the girls’ breakfast later that morning. For those who stayed on campus including the faculty, meals were prepared in the school’s Domestic Science Laboratory. The cafeteria was back in working order by April 12th.

This photo, taken April 6th at 10:00 a.m. is one of a series of photographs documenting the reconstruction of the roof. As you can see, there are two men on the roof working.

For additional information, click on the image to see it’s University archives’ record.

Who would have guessed the reason why ECU’s Spring Break was started was all because of this fire that happened back in 1915? If you are interested in seeing other photos and learning more about ECU’s history, you can go to the University Archives’ website.