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Historic Sewanee Building Severely Damaged in Fire -- Sky Arnold

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On a campus known for its historic buildings Rebel's Rest has always stood out at Sewanee the University of the South.

The log cabin style residence was built in 1866 for one of the University's founders, George Fairbanks.

Wednesday night the building sustained heavy damage in a fire that appears to have started on the upper level.

"When I came here it was engulfed in flames and it was a shock to see," said Sewanee graduate Jaina Patel.

Rebel's Rest is the only structure remaining on campus from the University's re-founding after the Civil War.

Sewanee Professor Waring McCrady says the building is important for more than its history though.

Many students and alumni have known the place in modern times as a location for receptions and the University's Guest House.

"Really does symbolize historic continuity and devotion to this place," said McCrady.

That's why the fire is hitting so many people personally at Sewanee.
Students and alumni like Patel stopped to take pictures Thursday afternoon.

Even people who aren't affiliated with Sewanee like Bob Burns stopped to look at the damage.
        
"This building in particular has so much meaning to so many people," said Burns.

As chance would have it though the fire does have a silver lining.
Three of the most priceless art pieces, including a portrait of the original resident George Fairbanks were moved recently for renovations.
          
It remains to be seen if those paintings might someday return home but McCrady is among those who believe it's possible.

He believes there's enough left on the bottom level of the residence to rebuild.
        
"There's enough here to work with even if they have to pull it down to the ground and build it back up. They got the pieces for the facade," said McCrady.

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