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GACA Collection 139. Slides, Film, and Negatives of the Auditorium Fire, January 1970: Overview

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Collection Description

Slides, Film, and Negatives of the Auditorium Fire, January 1970.  GACA Collection 139.  ½ Hollinger box.

This collection consists of slides, an eight millimeter film, negatives, and contact prints showing a fire that destroyed the Auditorium Building on the campus of Gustavus Adolphus College.  These images were taken at the time of the fire and during its aftermath on 8-9 January 1970.  Gustavus students J. Kirk Metzger (’70), Eric Stokhuyzen (’72), and James Bolmgren (’70) are credited for capturing these scenes.  Damage left the building as nothing more than a brick shell.

Historical Note

Built through a partnership between Gustavus Adolphus College and St. Peter residents, the Auditorium Building opened during January 1905.  According to an article in College Breezes, the building cost $30,000.  The edifice housed a number of departments, the chapel, and several classrooms.  During the formal dedication ceremony, Governor John A. Johnson remarked that the building’s opening was “an extraordinary occasion, an epoch in the history of Gustavus Adolphus college [sic], of the state, and of the nation.”  When the building was last mentioned in the College Catalog of 1969-1970, the grandeur had diminished.  It was listed as “among the older buildings on the campus. . . .”  This description sharply contrasts the portrayal of other campus structures.  At the time of the fire, the building housed administrative and faculty offices, the president’s office, an 800 seat auditorium, and a data processing center.

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