GAMBIER — Although a fire damage estimate has not been determined at Kenyon College’s president’s house, Cromwell Cottage, the insurance company might finish their assessment by next week, the college has confirmed.
The exact cause of the Dec. 14 fire is also still under investigation by the insurance company’s forensics examiner.
College Township Fire Chief Bill Smith said it appeared that a nicked underground power line caused an electrical fire in the garage/basement area, which spread to the kitchen upstairs.
Some community members, including College Twp. trustee Doug McLarnan, said Smith’s quick actions in driving his own vehicle to the scene, before a township fire engine could arrive with a hose about eight minutes later, likely saved Cromwell Cottage from far more extensive damage.
Smith had just a fire extinguisher on hand when he entered the garage area.
Kenyon College President Sean Decatur and his family were not home when the fire started. They were moved temporarily to the Kenyon Inn, and have since moved into a rented home in Gambier.
Mary Keister, Kenyon College director of news media relations, said although a fire damage estimate is still forthcoming, the extent of the damage is known. Repairs are soon to get under way.
“The physical damage to the house was confined to the kitchens, a small living room and a small section of the basement,” she said. “There is some smoke damage throughout the house that will require cleaning, but no other physical interventions are necessary. Kenyon is working with Rainbow Restoration on the repairs, and we hope that they will be able to start work next week once the insurance company is finished with their assessment.”
Cromwell Cottage, at 101 College Drive, has been the home of Kenyon presidents for more than a century, and is used by Decatur as it has been by other college presidents for social gatherings and small events. Funds for the Jacobethan Revival-style home, completed in 1911, were provided by William Nelson Cromwell, a trustee. The home was designed by Alfred Granger, a class of 1887 Kenyon graduate.