Gerrard Hall Fire Treated as Arson

Investigators believe an early morning weekend fire in Gerrard Hall was set intentionally. Fire broke out in the historic, recently renovated Gerrard early on Nov. 8, causing smoke and water damage to the first floor of the building.

“We’re treating it as arson,” said Randy Young, a spokesman for UNC Public Safety. He declined to give details of what police found in Gerrard, pending the investigation.

The Chapel Hill Fire Department and UNC police units responded to an automatic alarm at 3:14 a.m. and found that the sprinkler system had activated and had partially extinguished the fire but that a fire still was burning inside the building.

Fire department officials initially estimated the smoke, fire and water damage at $50,000.

Gerrard, which opened in 1837, recently received about $2.4 million in interior renovations and the restoration of the south-facing portico, which was part of the original but was torn down in 1900. It is a small, simple one-room hall with a balcony on three sides. Once the campus chapel, it is used now as a general lecture hall and for small-group performances and events in conjunction with arts performances in next-door Memorial Hall.

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