The Jan. 1903 Fire

The administration building on the grounds of the former Western Military Academy rose out of the ashes of a costly fire. In January of 1903 flames destroyed the original building putting the future of the Alton military school in doubt. The decision to rebuild on the same site was the result of a remarkable collaboration. The leadership of Alton interests and the unwavering confidence of Col. Albert M. Jackson, the schools owner, would insure the new Administration Building would be ready for the opening of the 1903 school year. The success of the plan was not without problems but the result was an impressive structure that is now in its second century. The Administration Building is a critical factor in preserving the historic fabric of Upper Alton throughout the 20th and into the 21st Century. The building has served as witness to the people who have shaped the world we live in. It has welcomed, and in some cases served as home to a significant, internationally recognized group of people. The Western Campus (now Mississippi Valley Christian School) is part of the Historic Places National Registry designated Upper Alton Historic District (I.D. 78001167.)

The Jan. 1903 fire destroyed the main building. The iron fence in front survived. It was constructed in 1835 and was brought from Pittsburg, Pa. The National Registry of Historic Places cites it as a structure of special significance. The NRHP document refers to the fence as an example of “urban furniture” that stands as testimony to its excellence and the skill of the iron-worker.

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