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Putting out fires

Living on the Lawn or the Range at the University of Virginia ranks among the highest honors for a U.Va. undergraduate.

Many, if not most, of a class’s student leaders will rate a room on the Lawn. In a vacuum, you might wonder why the space is so desirable. The rooms are small and somewhat cramped. To get to the bathrooms and showers, one has to go outside (January must be interesting). Tourists are omnipresent, gawking at Mr. Jefferson’s historic Academical Village in the shadow of the impressive Rotunda.

But such rooms are a U.Va. tradition, for which students will endure a lot. One bonus: the fireplaces. Many rooms have a stack of firewood outside to use in the active fireplaces. On a cool fall day, the smell of woodsmoke lends an 19th century ambience to a stroll through the Lawn then along the serpentine walls toward the Range.

Well, there won’t be any fires on the Lawn or the Range this year. U.Va. discovered that there are numerous cracks in the flues and chimneys of the fireplaces, so fires have been banned.

The University’s news release indicated the school is weighing whether to repair the problems are simply seal up the fireplaces and relegate them to the history books.

The smart money is on the likelihood that some alumni group will mobilize and pony up the cash to get the fireplaces fixed. Tradition is tradition.

[Photo by Jane Haley, www.virginia.edu]

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