Transcribed by Norma Knotts Shaffer from microfilms of The Calhoun
and 3/5/1942 with photos courtesy of Virginia
CHS Fully Engulfed in Flames
Burned Out Shell Following the Fire
2/19/1942 - Fire originating in the electrical control room in the
of the building gutted Calhoun high school building in South
early Saturday morning.
The flames were discovered about 12:30 a.m. by Ray Busch and son,
on their way home from work on a drilling well. The alarm was
and it took about an hour for the town hose cart to reach the
Then it was found that some of the hose sections were full of
More than an hour and a half from the time the blaze was discovered
water was adequately pouring on the flames. By that time flames
spread to the upper floors of the building through the lath and
partitions and the oil-soaked wooden floors, and in less than ninety
the roof structure was blazing high in one of the most spectacular
ever witnessed in Grantsville.
More than 500 pupils from all sections of the county were enrolled
the school this year. It was the only high school maintained in
Damage to the building is variously estimated at from $185,000 to
with insurance of $140,000. The contents of the building, on
a low estimate of $25,000 has been placed, was insured for $5,000.
Only the walls of the building were left standing. They were
so badly damaged that they will have to be torn down.
Records of students' grades were saved intact, as well as other
from the office of the principal. The greater part of the
of the home economics department which was located in the basement
of the building was saved. A large number of typewriters in the
department were destroyed, only the machine used in the principal's
being saved. The valuable equipment of the manual training shops
were removed several months ago to the NYA training building above
and were not in the fire.
The building was built in 1924 by comparatively high tax levies
over a number of years, and cost in the neighborhood of $250,000.
High School Will Be Continued
Arrangements for continuing the present year of high
school will be
made at a meeting of the board of education with principal M.T.
and other teachers of the school Monday afternoon.
The two local churches, the American Legion, the Masonic lodge,
L. Cabot, Inc., and other organizations and business men in
are cheerfully cooperating in every possible manner to furnish space
Seating and desk arrangements is the worst trouble the board will
to contend with. Only about a hundred school chairs were saved
In the next issue of the Chronicle we will be able to give details
the school's reorganization, place of meeting of the various classes,
other information of interest to the pupils and patrons of the school.
Must Rebuild High School
Regardless of the times, war conditions, priorities,
or what have
the Calhoun county high school system must be re-established. No
greater calamity could befall us than to have the boys and girls of
county out of school for four or five years at the age when their
are most easily moulded. Today's freshmen in high school, and
those back further in the grades, will be needed to rehabilitate the
after we win this war.
It is too soon to talk of definite plans for this work, but we must
be ready to make any sacrifice to get the school system working
We should have expert advice in all phases of the matter. The
program should be worked out by folks who know more about this than do
any of us. The transportation end of the business should be
thirteen year-old children should not be kept up from four o'clock in
morning until seven at night in order to do first year work in high
Junior high schools in various sections of the county may be the
to some of our most vexing problems.
Time should be taken out to give these matters most earnest
but we must bear in mind that this priority business is not going to
any better for several years.
3/5/1942 - Insurance adjusters have been on the ground but so far
come to no agreement with the board of education as to the amount of
that will be paid. It is said the adjusters are unwilling to pay
for the walls which remain standing. The walls were built of a
of stone far inferior to the grade of stone which is being used in the
new court house, and were laid up by unskilled workmen in the cheapest
manner possible. Many feel that the damaged walls are totally
for a modern building. If there is any way to avoid it the
of the county are not going to sell for less than a first class
Umpires have been chosen by the board and the insurance companies
settle the question of the value of the standing walls.
The building is said to have been partially covered by policies in
old line stock companies in the amount of $140,000.00. Contents
insured for $25,000.00.
High school is progressing as well as could be expected in various
and rooms in the town under the direction of Principal M.T.
Study hall and assembly is conducted in the American Legion building
Court street. Rooms in the Calhoun County Bank basement, the
and Baptist churches, Masonic building, W.J. Mathews store basement,
garage, Godfrey L. Cabot building, NYA building above town, and
other places are being utilized for class rooms. Teachers and
are cheerfully doing with what have and making the most of it.
may be that the uses of adversity are as sweet as they were in the
of Avon's bard, an that something good will come of our recent
No plans have been made by the board of education for rebuilding
high school or otherwise improving school conditions in the
Little can be done until the matter of the insurance is
Then the question arises of whether or not federal or state funds to
with the project will be available.
The business of rebuilding the high school and providing better
for some of the graded schools of the county where junior high school
may be done is something that should be given the most earnest
of all citizens of the county. Due study should be given the
by those capable of advising the rest of us, but there should be no
delay, even if an election is approaching.
The welfare of the youth of the county at this particular time is
much greater importance than the personal ambitions of some jaybirds
would hamstring their own kids and hang them by the heels rather than
a defeat in pycaunish politics.
Every family and every faction, political or otherwise should be
to get down around the table and work out something that will give
county children a whopping fine school system, even if everything else
is looking tough all over the world.