Saturday, November 25, 2017

This Week in Texas Methodist History Nov. 26

Fire Sweeps Through SMU Dormitory, November 27, 1917

Texas Methodists created many schools throughout the 19th and early 20th century.  Unfortunately most of those schools failed.  The main reason for closing the schools was debt, but fire and disease sometimes contributed to school failure.   For example, Odessa College, an institution of the Austin Conference of the MEC closed after one session because of a fire.   

SMU opened for instruction in 1915, and while it was still a young institution, President Hyer had to deal with a major dormitory fire.  On Nov. 27, 1917 a fire swept through South Hall.   Fortunately the fire began at noon rather than when the students were sleeping.  Students pitched in to fight the fire and along with the Dallas Fire Department were able to keep the blaze confined to South Hall.  The estimated damage was in excess of $20,000, and classes were not interrupted.
It was also fortunate that there was only one serious injury.  A post graduate student working as associate pastor at City Temple, King Vivion (1896-1969) was seriously injured by a collapsing wall. 
Readers of this column will recognize the name King Vivion who became President of Southwestern University as a thirty-two year old minister.  Vivion recovered from his injury soon enough to enter the ministry.  He was appointed to Bryan so he could start a church to serve the Texas A&M community.   After building that church, he was appointed to First Methodist Galveston (the predecessor of Moody Memorial UMC).  Vivion became SU president in 1928 and continued in that post until 1935 when he became pastor of McKendree Methodist Church in Nashville, TN.  Texas Methodists also remember his younger brother, James Monroe Vivion (1902-1978) for his ministry in the Texas Conference and with the Texas Methodist Foundation. 


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