Days Gone By - stories from the past

Woods Hall at the University of Alabama is still standing because of an alert student on October 6, 1931 which could have ended in tragedy

Following the destruction of the University of Alabama campus during the American Civil War, a new Quad emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries The first building to be built on the campus was Woods Hall, completed in 1868. Woods Hall is located on the Campus of the University of Alabama, near McCorvey Drive and Stadium Drive, Tuscaloosa, Alabama. It was named for Alva Woods, the First President of the University of Alabama from 1831 to 1837.

Woods Hall housed all the students

Woods Hall is located on the Campus of the University of Alabama, near McCorvey Drive and Stadium Drive, Tuscaloosa, Alabama. It was named for Alva Woods, the First President of the University of Alabama from 1831 to 1837. The gothic revival structure was built of materials salvaged from the original campus. It housed the entire University for almost two decades.

The news article from October 6, 1931 tells how a student’s quick actions saved the historic building.

The Tuscaloosa News

October 6, 1931


Youth Smells Smoke As Dining Hall Blaze Starts: Bucket Brigade Stops Threat


Loss of $350 Reported But Building Little Hurt; Students Awakened

Fire prevention of the highest order was demonstrated this morning by Will E. Chisam of Bridgeport, University student who reported a smoldering fire in the supply room of the Woods Hll dining room at the Quadrangle, leading to action extinguished the blaze which might have developed into serious proportions.

Alabama universtiy  woods hall3Woods Hall ca. 1900 (Alabama Department of Archives and History)

Chisam, sleeping with his head close to a window directly over the supply room, was awakened by smoke coming from the ventilator below. He roused a fellow student who worked in the dining hall, and the two called out other students to aid in a bucket brigade to fight the fire.

This group had the blaze practically under control when firemen from Station Number 2 arrived and ran a hose to the scene. The remaining embers were quickly doused.

woods-hall-by-carol-highsmith-2010-library-of-congressWoods Hall 2010 by Carol Highsmith (Library of Congress)

Total damage was estimated at $350, being $200 to the building and $150 to supplies. Although Woods Hall exterior is constructed entirely of brick, the interior is of wood.

Students throughout the Quadrangle were awakened by the excitement and those who did not join es (?) from the ‘stoops’ above. Origin of the fire was not determined.

ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS Immigrants: Lost & Forgotten Stories includes some lost & forgotten stories of their experiences such as:

  • The Birth of Twickenham
  • Captain Slick – Fact or Fiction
  • Vine & Olive Company
  • The Death of Stooka
  • President Monroe’s Surprise Visit To Huntsville

About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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  1. Jeri Patrick Mercier

    On special games the Million Dollar Band lines the balconies and has a pep rally for fans in the courtyard. By far my favorite at UA being surrounded by the band. (and I’m an Auburn fan!) thanks for posting the history on this great building

  2. I had several classes in Woods (class of ’54) and my Dad (class of 1922) lived there. Great memories!

  3. Joe Lyle

    I took journalism in that building in summer 1968

    1. Jean Cox

      I was wondering what it is, too, lol.

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