Featured Article April 30, 2019

Rescued from the 1947 fire

The Jackson Laboratory Headquarters in Bar Harbor, Maine

There were a few minor victories against the Great Fire of 1947. Kay Hamilton rescued Tibby Russell’s “book files” from the fire (“I got four papers out of that,” she later reported). George Snell’s assistant Dick Desjardins saved documents that would be the basis for Nobel prize-winning work. “All my records were moved into the fireproof part of the building, so I didn't lose them. I lost all my mice, but by that time, I had completed one piece of work on the genetics of transplantation.”

And, thanks to the efforts of a gardener with a garden hose, one of the fine “cottages” (mansions, really) along Schooner Head Road, Highseas, eluded the fire that destroyed most of “Millionaire’s Row.” The house would be donated to JAX in 1951 and today is a conference center and home to the Summer Student Program.

Years after the fire during a new construction project, workers came across the Laboratory’s original stone sign, cracked but still readable. Today the carved granite is the capstone of the fireplace hearth in Roscoe’s, the Bar Harbor campus dining facility.