Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Fire Destroys Plain Dealing High School

February 16, 1963 - Firefighters working to
extinguish the fire at Plain Dealing High School.
Beulah Findley Collection: 1997.054.058.059-2
February 16, 1963 - Plain Dealing High School fire.
Beulah Findley Collection: 1997.054.058.059
 In its 75th year, on February 16, 1963, Plain Dealing High School was destroyed by fire as a result of faulty wiring. The two-story brick building was built in 1928; opening its doors on September 17 to grades 8-11. The building was declared a total loss at an estimated $120,000, which was mostly covered by insurance.

The Plain Dealing fire department was alarmed at 12:40 pm when the fire was spotted burning on the second floor in the middle of the building. The fire spread quickly across the second floor and by 2:15 pm the roof collapsed. It was 4:00 pm before the firemen gained control, but not before the fire caved in part of the second floor and began to consume the first floor.

Altogether about 50 firemen battled the blazing fire as the Plain Dealing firefighters received assistance from firefighters from Bossier City, Springhill, and Benton. The acting Bossier City assistant fire chief, Bobby Roy, stated, “The building wouldn’t have burned up if there had been an adequate water supply. We could have stopped the fire a lot sooner if we had the water.”

Though the fire did not damage some of the classrooms on both sides of the first floor, they did suffer extensive water damage. Fortunately, the school’s records survived; however, they were the only thing saved. The building housed 13 classrooms including a science lab, home economics, a library, and the principal’s office.

According to the Bossier Parish Superintendent, Emmet Cope, “the big handicap will be the loss of the science and home economics departments. We will set up another science department as quickly as possible.” When asked about what the students will do about schoolbooks Cope replied, “We hope a lot of the kids have them at home.”

Nearly 200 students in grades 8-12 were displaced, sending the administration into high gear to set-up temporary classrooms. The students were given a couple of days off while administrators prepared make-shift classrooms in the auditorium, gymnasium, and in empty classrooms in the elementary and junior high school buildings.

Before the fire, voters approved a bond to renovate the old building; instead, these funds allowed the school’s reconstruction. The Bossier Parish School Board approved a $350,00 contract to rebuild the school which opened in time for the 1964-1965 school year.

1964 - The new Plain Dealing High School.
Thomas R. Merideth, architect and McInnis Bros., contractor.
Linda Matlock Collection: 2004.017.013 (1965 Au Roarer)
Bossier City architect, Thomas Merideth, designed the new Plain Dealing High School and McInnis
Bros constructed it. It was designed to provide improved lighting, more drinking fountains, more locker space, as well as airconditioned offices and library.

September 13, 1964 - Raising of the flag at the official opening
ceremony for the new Plain Dealing High School .
Linda Matlock Collection: 2004.017.013 (1965 Au Roarer)
The new Plain Dealing High School opened on August 31, 1964, and the cornerstone laying ceremony took place on September 13 during the open house and reception held from 3 to 5 pm. Friends, former students, and teachers for the past 75 years were honored guests at the formal opening of the school. The ceremony included a brief history of the school, refreshments, and an open house tour of the new school building.

September 13, 1964 - Pledge of allegiance during dedication ceremony of the new Plain
Dealing High School. Linda Matlock Collection: 2004.017.013 (1965 Au Roarer)
September 13, 1964 - Visitors at the official opening ceremony for the new Plain Dealing High School.
Linda Matlock Collection: 2004.017.013 (1965 Au Roarer)
To learn more about the history of schools in Bossier Parish, visit the Bossier Parish Libraries History Center at 2206 Beckett Street, Bossier City.
September 13, 1964 - Mayor Leon Sanders sharing the history of Plain Dealing High School during the dedication ceremony. Linda Matlock Collection: 2004.017.013 (1965 Au Roarer)
September 13, 1964 - Plain Dealing High School opening ceremony program participants: B. H. Hearn, Principal; S. M. Wise, School Board.; Mayor Leon Sanders; James Roberson, School Board.; Emmet Cope, Superintendent.; Dr. W. E. B. Lockridge, Reverend Bob Lawton. Linda Matlock Collection: 2004.017.013 (1965 Au Roarer)
September 13, 1964 - Plain Dealing High School Principal B. H. Hearn and Bossier Parish Schools Superintendent Emmet Cope at cornerstone laying ceremony. Linda Matlock Collection: 2004.017.013 (1965 Au Roarer).

By: Amy Robertson

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