3 teens arrested for arson of San Marcos' Old Fish Hatchery

Officials: 3 teens charged with criminal mischief in Sunday's fire


SAN MARCOS, Texas – Three teens were arrested and charged Tuesday with the arson fire that severely damaged the historic Old Fish Hatchery Community Building in San Marcos Plaza Park.

According to San Marcos Fire Marshals, two boys aged 14 and 16, along with a 14-year-old girl, have been charged with arson and criminal mischief in the fire that broke out about 10 pm on Sunday.

The San Marcos Fire Department said they quickly saved the building that was constructed in 1894-1895 as the office for the San Marcos National Fish Hatchery. Officials said the building suffered major damage to the back stairs and porch, interior smoke and water damage.

Authorities said initial repair costs are estimated at between $75,000 and $150,000.

History of Old Fish Hatchery Community Building

According to officials, the building originally served as the headquarters for the first fish hatchery in the U.S. located south and west of the Mississippi River. The fish culture station, owned by the federal government, opened in 1896 on 25 acres near the head of the San Marcos River at the foot of Chautauqua Hill.

At the suggestion of President Lyndon B. Johnson, authorities said the property was deeded to Texas State University, then Southwest Texas State University, in 1965 where it became the administration building for the Aquatic Biological Center.

In 1981 the university's Board of Regents approved plans to build a new aquatic biology center at the university and donated the building to the City of San Marcos. It was moved to its present location in November 1981.

The building is part of the park system and officials said it is popular for public and private events and meetings. The city says the building will be out of service until repairs can be made.

San Marcos Fire Marshal Ken Bell says he is continuing his investigation of the fire.