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Video: Oktibbeha County Museum Remembers ‘Old Main’ Fire

STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) — It was one of the first buildings on Mississippi State’s campus, and in 1959 when it burned, it was reported to be the largest college dormitory in the United States.

It was known simply as Old Main, and in its nearly 80 year history it was home to nearly 40 thousand students, including: John Stennis, Sonny Montgomery, Boo Ferris, and Jerry Clower.

On Wednesday the Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum commemorated the 55th Anniversary of the fire that destroyed Old Main dormitory with a special program. Charles Lowery, former head of MSU’s History department, and author of a book about the legendary building was the featured speaker.

Former residents also shared their memories of Old Main and that fateful night. Bill Poe of Oktibbeha County still has a vivid recollection of the blaze:

“We saw the flames. I was maybe several hundred yards away, and we saw the flames in the sky. So, we rushed down there. I had a cousin that lived in there, and I assisted him after he had gotten out. But it was one heck of a night!”

Even though the fire completely destroyed the building, there was only one death. Bricks from Old Main were used to build The Chapel of Memories on the MSU campus.