The New York State Capitol and the Great Fire of 1911

Cover of the book 'The New York State Capitol and the Great Fire of 1911.'

Vicki Weiss and Paul Mercer of the New York State Library's Manuscripts and Special Collections have co-authored a book commemorating the centennial of the New York State Capitol fire, which occurred on March 29, 1911.

The New York State Capitol and the Great Fire of 1911, published on January 31, 2011 by Arcadia Publishing, combines dramatic photographs from Special Collections with eyewitness accounts of the 1911 fire, which severely damaged the western portion of the capitol.  Virtually the entire collection of the State Library, as well as significant holdings of the New York State Museum, were destroyed in the blaze, which struck as the Education Department was mere months away from moving across the street to the State Education Building, then under construction.

The new book tells not only the story of the fire and its aftermath, but also recounts the history of the building of the capitol, as well as the pre- and post-fire history of the Library. Much of the story is told in the words of Joseph Gavit, who retired in 1946 after a 50-year career in the State Library.

The book is available in the NYS Museum shop in the Cultural Education Center, from the Friends of the New York State Library web site, and from local booksellers.

All royalties from book sales will go to the Friends of the New York State Library.

Last Updated: July 13, 2011