The 1990 Brooks Hall Fire and 1993 Rededication: UNC Press Centennial Recollections

The following blog post was written by our current work study and Publicity Intern, Charity Frye.

Since 1922, the University of North Carolina Press has published groundbreaking humanities scholarship on race, religion, gender, social justice, and more. Celebrating our 100th anniversary in 2022, the Press continues to illuminate the life of the mind by publishing works of diverse viewpoints in an accessible and sustainable way. With the 100th anniversary, UNC Press has taken the opportunity to explore the illustrious history of one of the nation’s premier public university press through our photographic archives. 

On December 5, 1990 a three-alarm fire roared through the original Brooks Hall, which housed the University of North Carolina Press offices, reported by the Daily Tar Heel. Although there were no injuries, the University Press library, which housed copies of every book published by the press since 1922, was destroyed. Publishers Weekly reported that awards like the 1983 Pulitzer and four Bancroft prizes were also destroyed. This major loss led to the rebuilding of Brooks Hall, which was completed in 1993. 

Former Associate Director of UNC Press, Rich Hendel, stands among the ruins of Brooks Hall, 1990.
The burned interior of Brooks Hall, 1990.
UNC Press staff (from left) Pamela Upton, Judy Bergman, Lisa Delwo, Jackie Johnson, and others get a first look at the reconstruction of Brooks Hall, 1992.
William Powell signs copies of The First State University at the Brooks Hall rededication ceremony, 1993.
UNC Press staff (l-r: Pam Upton, David Perry, Paula Wald, Ron Maner, Sian Hunter, Barbara Hanrahan, Lewis Bateman) celebrating the rededication of Brooks Hall, 1993.