The Packer Collegiate Institute: A Story of Education in Brooklyn

Up in Flames

Up in Flames

In the early morning of January 1, 1853, the Brooklyn Female Academy (BFA) went up in flames. The fire was suspected to have originated in a faulty heating system. A foggy evening that initially made the flames hard to see, the lack of a municipal water supply, and a disorganized Brooklyn fire department allowed the fire to rage out of control.

By the time the fire department arrived on the scene, it was apparent that BFA’s building was destroyed. According to The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, among the assets lost were a valuable organ housed in the chapel, a two thousand–volume library, and a newly built laboratory for science classes.

The BFA community rallied valiantly. The trustees met immediately to discuss rebuilding. The students did not suffer the loss of a single academic day. Classes were held in temporary quarters at the Brooklyn Institute on Washington Street and remained there until the new Packer was opened one year later.

Brooklyn Female Academy Board of Trustees meeting minutes, 1853/01

Brooklyn Female Academy Board of Trustees meeting minutes, 1853/01Full record