Arise and Build!
The Great Fire
Firsthand Accounts
John T. Thornton


John T. Thornton



"Soon the flames had gained possession of the Rotunda
and nothing is now left standing but the bare and ruined walls."

John T. Thornton, the son of William Mynn Thornton (Chairman of the Faculty), was twenty years old at the time of the Great Fire. He recorded his eyewitness account on the evening of the fire, Sunday, October 27, 1895, in a letter to his mother, Rosalie Thornton, who was living in Berlin. The photograph of Dr. Thornton, taken in 1945(?) is on loan from his son, John T. Thornton, Jr. of Charlottesville, Virginia and shows (from left to right) Rosalie Thornton Byron, George Byron, Helen Thornton, John T. Thornton, and the family dog, Robin.

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