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    Saturday, April 01, 2023

    Historic UConn building heavily damaged in Friday morning fire

    A fire broke out at the University of Connecticut’s historic Whitney House on Friday morning, doing heavy damage to the structure, according to the school.

    Fire crews at the Storrs campus responded to Whitney House around 6:20 a.m. for a reported fire. The home, which is one of the oldest structures on UConn’s campus, was fully engulfed in flames. The building suffered “extensive” damage, which is still being assessed at this point, according to university spokesperson Stephanie Reitz.

    The fire was placed under control by 8 a.m. Fire personnel stayed on site and continued to put out hot spots within the building’s walls, Reitz said. Fire personnel remained on the scene for most of the day Friday, Reitz said, and no injuries were reported.

    The building was not in use at the time of the fire but was regularly maintained, according to Reitz.

    Route 195, which runs adjacent to Mirror Lake, was closed on the east side of the campus Friday morning.

    The building resides near UConn’s picturesque Mirror Lake on the south side of campus and is feet away from a popular walking path that students and locals use. The building is one of many along Route 195 and is down the street from a group of academic buildings.

    The building was initially reported to be UConn’s oldest structure, but the university clarified that it appears to have been built around 1800 using some of the materials of an earlier structure. The building’s foundation stone was engraved with an earlier date, Reitz said.

    The university was not founded until over 80 years after the house was built. It was the home of Edwina Whitney, who was an instructor and librarian at the school when it was Connecticut Agricultural College. The home and surrounding area were acquired by the university in 1918 from the family of Edwin Whitney.

    The building has served several purposes over the years, including as an administrative building and a home for campus programs, according to a marker placed near the home in 2006.

    Classes and work schedules were not affected by the fire, Reitz said.

    The site will be fenced off for safety purposes. The UConn Fire Marshal’s Office is working to determine the cause of the fire, according to Reitz.

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