Guy Wolff '70 Remembers

As the girls headed over to our dorm, quiet, some crying, many of the older boys got on coats and headed over to the work at hand.  Coming up the stone stairs by the corner of  the Big Room we saw a Wilton fire truck just arriving.  With a few minutes work at the hoses we really had the fire under control and we were looking forward to a happy ending with not a lot of permanent damage to the architectural treasure that stood before us.  The fire was almost out when the hoses lost pressure and we had the horror of seeing, as those first minutes passed, the flames waking, as if rising from a nap.  It was a terrible thing to see.  That was the last water truck from town we saw.  Abbot Hill was covered in ice.

As the fire spread we all felt so helpless.  Standing near the power of that fire one realized later body burns even through clothing.  Bob Pittman got on a rather old, but very large bulldozer (the kind with no cab protection) and headed directly for the wall near the metal door to the Big Room (attacking at the hallway right outside the corner English Room).  That section of wall was engulfed in flame and there was a real question whether the story and a half wall of fire would fall away from or on Bob.  It was one of the bravest things I have ever seen anyone do.  Bob was always very proud of his time in the Marine Corps and we, as a school, were so lucky to have him there at that moment.  There is no doubt in my mind that if Bob Pittman had not taken the extraordinary chance he did we would be without the Main Building today.