September 21, 1938

The Great Hurricane

In 1938, a massive Category 3 hurricane hit the Rhode Island coast. While the regional damage was extensive and costly, Brown’s campus was spared the worst. Damages included the loss of a dozen trees, the roof of the swimming pool, the flagpole and the arm of the Caesar Augustus statue. Brown’s greatest loss, however, was off-campus. Downtown Providence was flooded with water reaching 13 feet in some places, including the bank vault that held Brown’s copy of the 1764 College Charter. Though the document itself was not lost, the seawater washed all the words from the parchment.