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Amherst, OH Public School Fire, Mar 1907

Amherst OHIO Central high school ruins .jpg

ROARING FLAMES DESTROY SCHOOL.

BEAUTIFUL AMHERST PUBLIC SCHOOL LIES IN A MASS OF RUINS AS THE RESULT OF A BLAZE THAT STARTED FROM THE FURNACE -- JUNIORS AND SENIORS WEPT AS FLAMES DEVOURED THEIR ALMA MATER.

A fire which again demonstrated to the citizens of Amherst the necesity of providing more efficient fire protection occurred Sunday evening shortly after 5:30 o'clock when the public school building, for which the citizens have not yet finished paying for, was consumed by flames.
The fire started from the device used in burning out the closets in the boys lavatory. Janitor ED GUESSNER had built a roaring fire in the furnaces and had then gone to his restaurant down town. A few moments later the fire alarm was turned in by people in the neighborhood who saw the flames through the basement windows. The fire department responded promptly and had the fire under check when the reservoirs went dry and the steam engine was compelled to move. When this had been accomplished a section of the hose bursted and by the time it was repaired the fire had gained such headway that it was impossible to check its progress. A call for aid was sent to Lorain, but that city was unable to offer any assistance. The old hand engine, in use in the village prior to the purchase of the steamer, was pressed into service. The fire in the school building, however, had gained such headway that it was impossible to prevent the total destruction of the building and the firemen ceased their efforts and turned their attention to the saving of the dwellings in the immediate neighborhood, a number of which had started to burn.
The fire started near the chimney of the closet furnace and in a very short time the basement was filled with smoke. When Janitor GUESSNER heard of the fire he attempted to rush into the fiery basement but was held back by the dense smoke. He made a second attempt but the crowd this time held him back.
The school building was erected during the yars of '93, '94 and '95, after the old brick building had been destroyed through incendiarism on July 5, 1893. It was a substantial stone structure of ten rooms and one of the finest public school buildings in the county. The building was erected during the panicky times and was constructed for less money because of much of the stone being furnished by the quarries at much cheaper prices. To erect a similar building today would require from $65,000 to $70,000, while the one destroyed was built for $30,000.
While the loss to the village will amount to about $30,000, the pupils will sustain a loss of about $2,500 for text books. The school library, valued at $500, the physical laboratory, worth $700, and Supt. CRANDALL'S library and supplies, valued at $450, were also destroyed. An insurance of $16,700 was carried on the bulding, but the remainder of the property is a total loss as the pupils did not carry insurance on the books. About 430 pupils are affected.
This experience should result in the village taking active steps to provide a water supply that would prove adequate in time of fire.

The Elyria Reporter Ohio 1907-03-04



article | by Dr. Radut