The Stein House Fire

The fire happened in early to mid February of 1968. Something rings in my mind of Feb 11 or 12, like a Tuesday because I was studying for a test at the time by the window in Manor House after hours. There were flickering flames that shown orange onto my book as I was studying and until I saw flames didn't realize. No one had evacuated at that point.

When I saw flames I ran down the hall to alert Mrs. Christine Horvath, the Manor House housemother, who phoned the fire department. It was a full ten minutes of watching the flames before we saw fire trucks. By then the students were evacuating. There was snow on the ground. The most damage was in the gym/theatre and the dining halls, being at the lower levels, but because the boys and girls dorms were attached, they suffered extensive damage at the northwest side and were uninhabitable.

Neil Church died in the subsequent fire. You may remember him living behind the school store area and Kenny Dreyfus worked the school store with him.

I don't know this part for sure, but the word was the fire was arson by a night employee.

Laura Schoen, CLS'69

The fire was February, 1968. I lived in the top floor of Stein house, where all the younger boys lived. I was dorm president that year, and part of the job was to check all rooms during every fire drill before i left the building myself. Well, all the boys rooms that is. The night of the fire the alarm went off twice, each time we all ran out, but were told that it was a false alarm. They didn't find any fire. After the second alarm we were all told that if it went off again, we could ignore it. Thank God we didn't. When the alarm went off a third time, everyone ran out again. I went through all the boys rooms and then for some reason decided to check all the girls rooms on the second floor. As I was running down the fire escape on the side of the building, the windows blew out and flames came out of the windows. It was exciting and scary and upsetting all at once. Us boys were housed in the common room at Boys House, with rows of steel bunk beds and foam mattresses. My record player survived and my copy of Asian literature selections, both smelling strongly of smoke forever afterward. All our clothes were ruined. The next day my mother came and took me to Bradlees for some plastic shoes to tide me over.

The fire was set by one of the maintenance men in a room off the of the stage in the gym. He wanted to set the alarm and rescue us and be a hero. Of course it ruined us. A real shame. The new dining hall was put up very quickly, and after that we didn't sit at assigned tables and have servers to fetch everyones food anymore. No more ties and jackets for dinner. I kind of missed that. It forced different people and classes and teachers to sit together.

Peter Lewis, CLS'71