Ilion High School Fire of 1963

Ilion High School 1963 Fire at night


Newspaper Clippings are reproduced
with permission of the Utica Observer-Dispatch and provided by Paul McCabe '64
Observer Dispatch Newspaper Article 1 Observer Dispatch Newspaper Article 2 Observer Dispatch Newspaper Article 3 Observer Dispatch Newspaper Article 4


On the night of April 21, 1963, the clocks throughout the high school building stopped at 10:50 PM. This was a night that would change Ilion High School's history; a fire was about to destroy the school building.

The blaze was believed to have started on the third floor above the auditorium. Damaged areas of the building included the auditorium, girls gymnasium, 25 classrooms, and the administrative offices on the second floor. Many valuable records and musical instruments were ruined also. New language labs that were installed in February were completely destroyed.


Ilion High School 1963 Fire Auditorium

Many students and parents watched as the fire did its work. They silently stood in small groups while the firemen tried their best to stop the blaze. Two firemen, Robert Day and Burton Seymour, were injured. Day was soon released from the hospital, but Fireman Seymour lost his life to the fire. The new auditorium was named the Burton T. Seymour Auditorium in honor of his heroics while fighting the blaze.

More than 300 students returned to the school after the blaze and did what they could to help recover from this terrible incident. While cleaning up the mess, many students wondered about graduation and told to others that this blackened area used to be their homeroom. It was a time of total confusion at IHS.

Ilion High School 1963 Day After Fire
View from Weber Ave. post fire

Created and maintained by Aileen Carney Sweeney - Class of 1974

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First published January 16, 1999 - Modified February 25, 2021

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