University of Virginia Library Online Exhibits

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"Arise and Build!": A Centennial Commemoration of the 1895 Rotunda Fire


The fire of October 27, 1895, was a disaster: only the scorched brick shell of the Rotunda remained standing; Robert Mills' Annex, the University's main classroom building, was a smoldering ruin; and two-thirds of the University Library's collection was destroyed. But thanks to an outpouring of support from friends and alumni, the University did more than simply reconstruct the Rotunda. In the wake of the destruction, emerged a rebuilt Rotunda, designed by Stanford White; three new buildings at the south end of the Lawn; a revitalized University Library; and a University with a growing national reputation.