By Jeff Sauve
Recently an alumnus donated some family papers that contained correspondence from former St. Olaf President Lars V. Boe. In one of the letters, dated May 5, 1924, Boe wrote, “Mrs. Boe and I had driven clear up to northern Minnesota to spend a couple of days after the rather strenuous days we had at the [college] opening. It was a beautiful fall day, and we were enjoying ourselves to the full out at a lake about six miles from LaPorte. Then the banker in town came rushing, out of breath, and could barely tell us the message that had come to him: ‘A building had burned at St. Olaf!’ ”
Though initial reports to the president claimed that Ytterboe Hall had burned to the ground 80 years ago, it was Hoyme Memorial Chapel that met its fate on Sept. 22, 1923. (Hoyme Chapel stood on the current site of the Art Barn.) Incidentally, students scavenged the burned chapel and placed objects in their scrapbooks. In the college archives we have various items that melted in the fire: a clock dial, church pew number and pieces from the stained glass window. (I always joke and say we could reconstruct the chapel with all the scavenged pieces!)
View photos of the burning building on our web site, or read “When the Chapel Burned” by Gertrude Hilleboe, former Dean of Women.