Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer's work spared in Marian University fire

Fisher Hall
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There's still no official cause of a fire at Marian University that caused a quarter-million dollars in damage Monday night.

Some classes had to be moved Tuesday after the fire broke out at Fisher Hall. That's where the theater and art departments are housed.

Students had to be evacuated after the flames were spotted coming out of the roof.

Investigators say the fire started in the attic and are looking at an electrical cause.

There was a lot of history in that building and incredibly, none of it was destroyed.

"For me, I open a box and it's a time machine," said Marian University Assistant Professor of Fine Arts Bill Foley.

Foley spent Tuesday morning going through boxes in his office in Fisher Hall where he has taught photography since 2007.

As he sifted through thousands of photographs, it was an instant trip back some 40 years ago to war-torn lands.

"This is in Tripoli. During the PLO war in '83," said Foley showing a picture with Yasser Arafat.

Foley pulled out pictures of famous faces more familiar to an Indianapolis crowd.

"We got Jim Hurtubise. We got Mario Andretti. We got Paul McCartney," he said, showing photographs he'd taken over the years of each of the men.

There were moments in history from all over the world, hanging on the walls of Foley's office.

"There's the Marines coming into Beirut," said Foley, pointing to framed black and white photograph he had taken.

All of the pictures form a photographic tapestry that Foley, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, has spent a life-time weaving.

"I love making pictures," he said.

Pictures that Foley easily could have lost forever in Monday's fire at Fisher Hall.

"If anything happens to this stuff, I'm toast," he said, opening another box of pictures.

"Some of this I may be able to find the negative, but chances are slim," he added.

Incredibly, none of the fire, smoke or water touched any of Foley's work or the other art housed inside Fisher Hall.

"When you look at that, it's that close. It's amazing how close it was," said Foley, pointing just feet away from his office where a gaping hole appeared in the roof from the fire.

"The fact that we all survived and everything survived is a nothing short of a miracle," said Foley.

Foley has lived through and witnessed some of those too.

"I've been shot at, shelled, beaten up and so every time you survive something else, you, go, 'ok'. It changes your perspective on what's important," he said.

What's important said Foley, for him is that ultimately, no one was hurt in the fire.

"God smiles on people sometimes. So here we are," he said smiling too, showing another picture from his career.

"Here's a picture of me in the desert," said Foley.

The photography professor has the kind of perspective you come by naturally when you've seen and photographed just about everything.

"There's Bob Hope," said Foley, showing another picture, then looking around his office.

"Everything's fine. A little dust here and there, but who cares about the dust?" he asked.