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ISSUE 121 VOL 1 PUBLISHED 9/21/2007

This week in St. Olaf history

By Mark Forsberg
Staff Writer

Friday, September 21, 2007

On the southeast side of campus eighty-four years ago stood Hoyme Chapel—, a red brick building that took the shape of a Latin cross. Hoyme Chapel faced Old Main and poised as a symbol for religious education after the United Church re-adopted St. Olaf College in 1899. The chapel was named after Rev. Gjermund Hoyme, president of the United Church, and the cornerstone was laid on Nov. 7, 1906.

Sixteen years later, Hoyme Chapel was forever memorialized after meeting its fate on Saturday, Sept. 22, 1923. Alumni vividly recalled smoke billowing from the structure as they attempted to salvage effects and waited for the fire department to arrive.

The Carletonian student newspaper claimed the fire started as a result of defective wiring, while college historian Joseph M. Shaw noted that "wind-blown debris from a trash fire on a slope below the building" may have been the likely cause.

In 1925, the Manitou Messenger recorded:

"Its downfall was as majestic as had been the days of its prime, and the fact that Dr. Christiansen played the splendid old organ for the last time on the morning preceding the fire, seemed later a not ungrandiose prelude to the cremative downfall of this honored edifice."

For a thirty-year interim, chapel services were held in the old gymnasium, now home to the speech-theater department, and Rev.. Hoyme later redeemed his commemorative name as one associated with less pious residence life.

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