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Update: Fire at historic Morristown College was intentionally set

6:42 PM, Oct 29, 2010   |    comments
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  • Viewer submitted photo of Morristown College building on fire. 10/29/10

A fire which broke out on the Morristown College campus Thursday evening is the third set fire in the past five years at the campus.

In 2008, police arrested a man for arson after Kendrick Hall, the school's cafeteria burned. The campus has been vacant since the mid-nineties and the city has had issues with vandalism on the campus ever since.

Morristown College merged with Knoxville College in the mid-eighties and only survived until December 1995.

Ever since then, fires and what to do with the property have been an issue in Hamblen County. "It was a beautiful campus, it really was. It was large stained glass windows right here, right where they're throwing water into. A huge bell tower. Now, it looks like something out of a World War 2 news reel. A Berlin shot or something," said Clark Taylor of Morristown Fire Department.

All that was left of the building after the fire were the bricks that students once made by hand to build the school's administration building. According to a now deceased employee's journal students built the campus's centerpiece in 1912.

For abandoned buildings like this, it's not worth risking a firefighters' life if there's nobody inside. As of Friday afternoon, Chief Deputy Taylor believes the fire was set, but it's not clear whoever started it wanted the flames to grow as fast as it did.

The late Harry Lane of car dealer fame bought Morristown College in 2006. At that time, his son Kenny said they planned condos and retail space on the land. However, the SHE group, an LLC the younger Lane is listed as a partner in filed for bankruptcy in August of last year.

Previous story:

Investigators believe a fire that destroyed an historic building on the Old Morristown College campus was deliberately set, but may not have been intended to burn the structure down.

Neighbors tell 10News that homeless people often frequent the abandoned building, which has no electricity.  Investigators speculate the fire may have been started by someone to keep  warm.

The building was built in 1880's from handmade bricks.  Firefighters say it was in fairly bad shape already, but now the roof has completely collapsed.  High winds last night also hampered their efforts to battle the blaze, with gusts estimated to be up to 25 miles per hour.  The fire did spread into the nearby brush and a grassy area in front of the building.

One neighbor's roof had minor damage from the fire.

Previous story

Early Friday morning firefighters in Morristown were called to battle a blaze at a historic building.

Dispatchers say a policeman driving by spotted flames at the Old Morristown College.

Authorities have not released much information at this time.

But the building has been abandoned for several years.

Fire destroyed the college's "Kenwood Hall" cafeteria building back in September 2008.

The campus was purchased by Knoxville College in the 1990s and later sold to a private owner.

An 18-year-old man was later charged with setting that fire.

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