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November 28, 2012

One Hundred Years Ago: The Great Fire

Dear University of Maryland community:

One hundred years ago today, the Maryland Agricultural College suffered a devastating blow when the Barracks and Administration Building burned down in what is now Morrill Quad. As you may have read in Terp magazine or seen on TerpVIsion, the Great Fire of 1912 brought this institution to a crossroads. Its records were lost. Its cadets were homeless. Its very identity was literally in ruins. But these students and the faculty and alumni saw opportunity.

From that singular event on November 29, 1912, grew the University of Maryland as we know it today: a Top 20 public research, land-grant institution where we fearlessly pursue innovation and entrepreneurship and excellence in higher education.

Thanks to University Archivist Anne Turkos, the story of this seminal event in our history has been well documented in print and broadcast. With her help, Facilities Management has chalked the outlines of the Barracks and Administration Building where they once stood on Morrill Quad. A photo exhibit on the quad this week documents the fire and its aftermath. I recommend it to everyone.

"The Blaze that Built Maryland" is a testament to the resilience of our former Terps—"Old Liners," back then—and their determination to build the modern institution we are all so proud of today. Their legacy is our bright future.

Wallace D. Loh