Officials suspect arson in Eagan Town Hall fire

Authorities urge public to call arson hotline with information

Eagan officials say they believe arson is the cause of the fire that damaged the city's historic town hall.
Eagan officials say they believe arson is the cause of the fire that damaged the city’s historic town hall.

A fire that damaged a piece of Eagan history on Sunday is suspected to be arson, Eagan fire officials say.

The blaze tore through the historic Eagan Town Hall at about 5 a.m. Sept. 8, damaging the roof, a wall and several irreplaceable artifacts.

Artifacts believed to be destroyed include a 1920s round election ballot box and a flag that braided itself in a windstorm in the late 1950s.

A display on Eagan’s female firsts, such as its first female reporter, Elisabeth Kenneally of the Dakota County Tribune, was completely destroyed. The Eagan Historical Society may be able to replicate portions of the display, said Joanna Foote, Eagan communications coordinator and staff liaison to the historical society.

“Many of the items on display were not in their original form and can be recreated,” Foote said. “We’re in the process of restoring as much as possible.”

Though several items were damaged, others, such as a 100-year-old hand-carved baby cradle, were saved by Eagan firefighters.

“The firefighters did an amazing job,” Foote said. “They carried a lot of items out of the building.”

Firefighters brought the fire at Wescott and Pilot Knob roads under control within 20 minutes.

No one was injured, but traffic on Pilot Knob Road was blocked off for about three hours.

Authorities ruled out accidental causes of the fire, but have no suspects at this time, Eagan Fire Chief Mike Scott said.

The police and fire departments are investigating the incident. A reward is being offered to anyone with information that may help solve the case. Those with information are urged to call the state Arson Hotline at 1-800-723-2020, the Eagan Fire Department or the Eagan Police Tip Line at 651-675-5799.

The building, owned by the city, served as Eagan’s second town hall. The first, built in the 1800s, was destroyed by a fire. Built in 1914, the current building was used for meetings until 1965.

Most recently, it has been used by the Eagan Historical Society to house historic photos and displays.

Members of the historical society are in the process of taking an inventory of all the damaged items, Foote said. There’s no estimate yet as to the cost of the damage.