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Special Collections Research Center

 HOURS for September 30, 2016:  Now Closed

Administration Building Fire

University of Kentucky Administration Building 1882-2001...

Administration Building Fire
(Photo courtesy of UK University Archives and Records Program, photographer Steve Stahlman)

Tuesday afternoon, May 15, 2001 several UK archivists, along with many others, watched helplessly and sadly as UK's oldest and most historic building became engulfed in flames and smoke. The heat from the inferno could be felt on the faces of bystanders over one hundred yards away. Flames spread swiftly across the roof and down into the area of old chapel where President James K. Patterson had instructed thousands of students in rigorous academic and high moral thinking. (History of Administration Building)

President Charles T. Wethington, Jr. and former President Otis A. Singletary, who had come from home after being told of the fire by a UK employee, both stood on the old cadet parade ground in front of the Administration Building and reflected on their years of service within the grand old building. The compelling moment reminded everyone that UK's history is both proud and fleeting, and must be preserved with great commitment and care. It is ironic that the Administration Building had never looked better than it did that spring morning in May. Work toward restoration of the exterior neared completion when the tragic fire erupted. But even before the smoke cleared, President Wethington expressed his intention to begin plans to rebuild the campus landmark.

The University Archives and Records Program staff also immediately began to provide information regarding the building and took steps to preserve the thousands of official documents which lay damaged by smoke and water in the smoldering building. The University Archives and Records Program's (UARP's) three primary missions are: preserving the University of Kentucky's history; providing a reference center for University of Kentucky information; and administering the University's Records Program. When fire devastated the University of Kentucky's Administration Building on the afternoon of May 15th, each of UARP's missions was called into play.

UARP staff, with the assistance of the Libraries's Preservation Team, supervised the disaster recovery of the administrative records in the building. After contacting a commercial recovery firm, which had representatives onsite the following morning, UARP staff entered the building with other UK personnel to identify records for salvage. The process was slowed when firefighters were forced to turn their fire hoses back on the still smoldering building several times during the day. But within seventy-two hours of the initial blaze, all salvageable documents were out of the building and on their way to a drying center in Chicago.

During the hours after the disaster began, staff from UARP's Reference Center also responded to requests for information and photographs pertaining to the history of the building. UARP staff have already begun working with architects and construction personnel to provide information crucial to the accurate historical reconstruction of the building.

Preparations for the return of the records began almost immediately following the salvage. Steps included outfitting a proper staging area, meeting with Central Administration staff to discuss handling and records retention procedures and assessing proper disposition, determining which records are historical, permanent or non-permanent. On August 28, 2001 the last of the shipments of records was returned. UK Central Administration staff are currently reviewing the records and assessing retention and disposition.

Photos of the Fire and Records Recovery:

PowerPoint Presentation of the Records Recovery

Photos of the Fire (via UK College of Architecture website)

Administration Building Renovation (via UK Capital Projects Management Department website)


Our Mission

Special Collections Research Center is home to UK Libraries' collection of rare books, Kentuckiana, the University Archives, the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, the King Library Press, the Bert T. Combs Appalachian Collection, and the Wendell H. Ford Public Policy Research Center.

The mission of the Special Collections Research Center is to locate and preserve materials documenting the social, cultural, economic, and political history of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Materials are acquired regardless of format and include both primary and secondary sources; Kentuckiana is collected comprehensively. Special Collections maintains the records management program for all records generated by the University and serves as its archival repository for permanent records. As part of the mission, the Special Collections Research Center advances and supports the research, teaching, and scholarship of the University and beyond by preserving and providing access to its holdings.

Associate Dean Deirdre A. Scaggs

Materials in Special Collections do not circulate.

Access to materials provided through the Breckinridge Research Room.


Campus Mail Code: 0039


For Research or Collections-related Inquiries

Breckinridge Research Room
Phone:
(859) 257-8611

Fax: (859) 257-6311

Email: sclref@lsv.uky.edu


General Information


Mailing Address:
Special Collections Research Center
Margaret I. King Library
University of Kentucky Libraries
Lexington, KY 40506-0039


Delivery Address:
179 Funkhouser Drive
Margaret I. King Library
University of Kentucky Libraries
Lexington, KY 40506-0039


Emergency Vehicle Response Location:
179 Funkhouser