Beeson Hall Fire
Massive fire costs students their possessions, lodging
Home / Memories / Beeson Hall Fire
Student searches through ruins of fire

Students searched for past-due coursework, conveniently missing, in the ashes of the inferno

On the morning of October 28, 1929, a fire razed Beeson Hall.

Breaking out at breakfast time, the fast-spreading blaze left little opportunity for residents to carry out their belongings. Waxahachie citizens made generous contributions to replace personal possessions, and many nearby residents opened their homes to dispossessed students.

Trinity President John Harmon Burma attempted to view the conflagration positively. "In place of this old fire trap," he told a friend, "there must rise a fire-proof building that will be adequate to the needs of Trinity, a credit to the Presbyterian Church, and an honor to our Lord."

Original wide shot of Beeson Hall

Because the insurance paid only $16,000, a little more than the amount originally borrowed from the endowment fund to complete construction of the building, Burma initiated a campaign to finance construction of a new dormitory for 100 students. Hampered by the poor economic conditions of the looming Great Depression, the project languished for nine years despite efforts to secure donations.

In 1938, Trinity Trustees conceded defeat and returned collected funds to donors. The cause of the fire remains unclear to this day.

Students gather around a fire


Back in 1929, breaking out at breakfast time
Smoke and a bright blaze: Beeson hall burned down

In order to evacuate, students had to ditch their freight
Losing books, school supplies, and clothes, it turned out.

Waxahachie citizens—got kids on their feet again
Made donations of their own, even opened up their homes

Insurance proved a poor solution, failed a proper restitution
With a looming Great Depression, no new dorm would be erected

Beeson hall caught on fire
Breaking out at breakfast in the heart of Texas

Beeson hall caught on fire
We don’t know what lit it, but remained resilient

Share Your Trinity Story

Trinity community shared stories about graduation and other special moments

These are some of the University's most memorable moments--and we can't wait to hear yours! Share your fondest memories with the Trinity community as part of an ongoing project with the University's Special Collections and Archives. Photos, stories, and memorabilia will be collected throughout our 150th year and stored in an online library for years to come. 

Share Your Story View All Story Submissions