Half a century has passed, but the memory still burns in the minds of those who were in Winfield during the spring of 1950. It was April 16, 1950, and Richardson Hall was on fire.
This majestic four-columned structure, far more than simply an office or class building, was the stones-and-mortar heart of Southwestern College. And as they watched the accumulated memories of the college’s first half century flamboyantly crumbling to ash, those students, faculty, staff, and townspeople gathered on the 77 steps must have had a single thought in their minds:
Could Southwestern survive?
Although by far the most spectacular, the Richardson fire was only one of three crises during a 10-month span from September 1949 to June 1950. The first two involved the unexpected and concurrent loss of the school’s two principal buildings, leaving it practically without classrooms or administrative offices. This loss, in turn, gave rise to the third crisis, an attempt to eliminate Southwestern by merging it out of existence.
But during the next three years, the college’s alumni, leadership, and friends rallied under the strong leadership of an exceptional president, Alvin Murray. The Richardson Fire, like the burning of prairie stubble, spurred the college to renew itself as an institution that was stronger, more vital, and more focused than ever.
It was the fire that refueled us.
For more information
Southwestern College Office of Communications
100 College Street, Winfield, KS 67156
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This page was constructed by Terry Quiett. Questions, comments, and possible additions or omissions should be addressed to the Center for Academic Technology.