Historic UConn barn collapses after overnight fire

(WTNH / Report-It / Gregory Maine)

MANSFIELD, Conn. (WTNH) — A historic barn on the east side of UConn’s main campus is considered a “total loss” after a fire broke out overnight.

UConn officials say the fire was reported to the university’s fire department around 11 p.m. The fire was contained by 12:30 a.m., but the building had collapsed and been declared a “total loss.”

The building on Horsebarn Hill, currently the “Landscaping Barn” used by the university’s landscaping services, dates back to 1922. The structure along with the landscaping equipment, tools and office space were destroyed.

Officials had to clarify that it was this building, and not the nearby Dairy Bar, that was destroyed.

Officials say none of the buildings nearby on Horsebarn Hill were affected, and no injuries to people or livestock were reported. They expect those buildings to operate on their normal schedules today, including the Dairy Bar, although there may be detours or changes to parking options closest to the Landscaping Barn.

Firefighters from Coventry, Willington, Willimantic, Tolland and Mansfield pitched in, and UConn officials say this mutual aid was critical given the way buildings on Horsebarn Hill are “clustered.” The fire “could have easily spread if not for their hard work and the early 911 calls we got from passing motorists who saw the flames and smoke from Route 195.”

A UConn spokesperson also released the following statement about the loss:

Given UConn’s size and national academic standing now, it can sometimes be easy to forget that its roots were as a modest agricultural college. Buildings such as this barn were part of that, and losing it is very unfortunate.

The cause and origin of the fire is under investigation.

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