Rising from the ashes

Franklin College nearly disappeared during a fateful month when building fires destroyed much of the campus in the mid-1980s. The college’s resilience and determination to rebuild have made the tragedy a distant memory for most, but a documentary screening this evening at the college will bring the events back to the forefront.

Franklin College will show the 35-minute documentary about the 1985 fires at 6 p.m. today in the Richardson Chapel.

“The Time of the Phoenix: The Franklin Fires” tells the story of two devastating, accidental fires in a four-week period that destroyed all the college’s administrative space, a dormitory and 40 percent of its classrooms.

Other schools might have closed their doors, but then-Franklin College President William B. Martin promised that the institution would rise from the ashes like a Phoenix. The film recaps what was thought to be the most serious challenge to the college’s existence since the Civil War.

The film was produced by Emily Metheny, a 2015 graduate of the college, while she was attending Franklin. Metheny was recently nominated for an Emmy Award in the professional category for a documentary she produced as a student about former Indianapolis Mayor Bill Hudnut (1976-92).

The screening is free and open to the public. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Special remarks by Martin will follow the screening and light refreshments will be provided after the event.

RSVP to Jane Howard, annual fund director, at 317-738-8051 or jhoward@franklincollege.edu.