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Old Main Exhibit
Opens in Peabody Library

February 12 is Abraham Lincoln's birthday, but it is also a sad day in the history of Sam Houston State University. On that day in 1982 the cathedral-like Old Main Building, the university's architectural symbol at the time, was destroyed by fire.

Old Main In observance of the 19th anniversary of this event, the Peabody Memorial Library and Archives is holding a tribute to "The Queen of the Hill," beginning at 1 p.m. Monday (Feb. 12) and continuing through Feb. 19.

"Come join us for a multi-year display of historic photographs, more recent photographs, views of the stained glass windows that perished in the fire, a look at the only surviving stained glass from Old Main, and various memorabilia pertaining to Old Main and its history," said Barbara Kievit-Mason, Peabody archivist.

A recently discovered video of the Old Main fire and news report clips from the various local stations covering the story will be included in the Peabody Memorial Library's new exhibit.

Kievit-Mason said the exhibit carries out a tradition begun a year after the fire in February, 1983, by then Mayor of Huntsville, William V. Nash. He signed a proclamation saying, "Therefore Be It Resolved that on February 12 of each year be established as a day to recall with a combination of pride and nostalgia the beauty and inspiration of her noble spires, rising in stately dignity on her tall hill, to exemplify to generations of students the virtues of seeking truth through study and knowledge."

Old Main Fire The Old Main cornerstone was laid on Sept. 23, 1889, just 10 years after the founding of Sam Houston Normal Institute as the first teacher-training insitution in the southwestern United States. At the time it was known as the Main Building. The older Austin Hall, first occupied by Austin College in 1852, was heavily damaged in the Old Main fire but it was restored.

A smaller collection of Old Main items will be displayed in the glass cases in front of the circulation desk at the Newton Gresham Library, also through Feb. 19.

The Peabody Memorial Library houses the archives of Sam Houston State University. It is located at the north end of the university's historic quadrangle, near Austin Hall and the Old Main Memorial.

The Peabody Memorial Library is open to the public Monday-Friday from 1-5 p.m. For more information call Kievit-Mason at 936.294.3699.

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SHSU Media Contact: Frank Krystyniak
Feb. 12, 2001
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