Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Bicentennial Moment: Burning of the Plum Street School House - February 1910

On February 10, 1910, Fairport suffered the total loss of its school building on Plum Street.  Built in 1904 at a cost of nearly $18,000, the building housed the high school, as well as the grade school.  Four brick walls, two chimneys, and a remaining debt of $9,000 were all that remained the next day.  The loss to the pupils and teachers in books and school supplies was equally significant.

According to the front page story appearing in the Painesville Telegraph on February 11, 1910,  Matt Sundol was passing by the building at 11 p.m. and detected an odor of smoke.  Chief Mike Locotosh was informed and the FHFD responded.  Their two lines proved insufficient and the raging inferno grew.  A call to the Painesville Fire Department was made but no action resulted as time and distance negated any steamer  benefit.  The fire raged through the morning hours as the extreme cold weather left icicles on the firemen and icebergs on the gutted school house.

Superintendent G.P. Hoffman and Board President E.E. Lawrence took immediate action and arranged for desks and supplies from Cleveland based sources to be delivered to the village.  Efforts were made to rent the Lamar House, the Lutheran Church, and some empty village buildings as temporary quarters in an effort to resume high school studies within the week.  It was reported that primary grade students, nearly 400, would be dismissed for the balance of the calendar school year.  The exact cause of the fire was never known.

Information Sources:
Hometown Sketches - 1936
The Story of Fairport, Ohio -1946

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