Early Morning Fire Destroys McClelland Dining Hall Kitchen

By Jeremy Coumbes on June 9, 2024 at 9:27am

Portions of a historic piece of the former MacMurray campus are a total loss after fire tore through one of the buildings early this morning.

The Jacksonville and South Jacksonville Fire Departments were called to Cured Catering located inside of the former McClelland Dining Hall at 438 East College Avenue for a structure fire just before 5 o’clock this morning.

Jacksonville Fire Department Captain Matt Leischner says the east side of the building was fully involved with fire when crews arrived. “When we pulled up there was fire blowing out of the roof in the middle of the building.”

We made entry through this [area] which was a door they had turned into a window. We broke through that window and started our attack here in the middle to try and keep the fire contained to the east and not going into the dining room.”

Leischner says no one was injured and the dining hall is likely savable, however, the kitchen portion of the structure is a total loss and will likely need to be raised. The fire did not reach the dining hall itself although it did sustain heavy smoke and water damage from fire suppression efforts.

Leischner said at one point the foam soundproofing in the ceiling of the hall began to smolder and crews had to soak the area with water to prevent a potential further ignition.

Upon initial investigation, Leischner says nothing suspicious is believed to be behind the cause of the fire, however, the Illinois State Fire Marshall’s Office has been called in to assist with determining the cause due to the commercial losses.

The historic dining hall was built in 1929, with a number of additions added to the kitchen side over the years as it served as the main kitchen and cafeteria for MacMurray College up until its closure in May 2020.

The hall was later purchased by local developer Mike Hayes and has been the home to Cured Catering. Brian and Melissa Reilly, owners of Cured Catering say they catered an event last night, and the last employee locked up and left at approximately 10:15 pm.

They say they are thankful that no one was injured and are now in the process of contacting wedding parties that had the hall booked for receptions this summer. The couple says they have also begun to contact other entities to help find space for those events to take place, as well as possible alternatives for kitchen space. Cured Catering has used the McClelland Dining Hall as their sole operations kitchen for a number of years.

The fire fully engulfed the kitchen portion of the building causing the roof to collapse into the structure. No estimate of damages was available as of press time, but officials say the kitchen portion of the building is a total loss.