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Ticonderoga High School fire a story of triumph

Historic fire 80 years ago

The new Ticonderoga High School was nearly destroyed March 9, 1933, by a roaring fire battled for hours by Ti and Port Henry firefighters. The blaze lit up the night sky for miles.

The new Ticonderoga High School was nearly destroyed March 9, 1933, by a roaring fire battled for hours by Ti and Port Henry firefighters. The blaze lit up the night sky for miles. Photo courtesy of the Ticonderoga Historical Society

— While the fire devastated the community, it also became a rallying point.

“The school system of Ticonderoga was dealt a staggering blow last Thursday morning when the magnificent new high school building in Fourth Street (now Calkins Place) was swept by flames at a loss of nearly $200,000,” the Ticonderoga Sentinel wrote in an editorial after the fire. “Undaunted, however, Ticonderoga will build anew...Ticonderoga has suffered a tremendous blow, but its residents and school authorities have not lost the greatest of all human attributes — courage.”

Work to repair the high school began almost immediately. The goal was to have the school open for classes in September. That didn’t happen. Some students were able to return to the building in January and the high school was completely re-opened March 4, 1934 — five days before the one year anniversary of the blaze.

In less than a year Ticonderoga’s “proudest possession” was fully operational.

At graduation ceremonies in June 1934 students and faculty were honored for enduring the difficulties of the fire.

“This year the graduates and faculty may feel that they have triumphed over severe hardships and difficult handicaps to close out the school year with such a splendidly impressive record,” the Sentinel wrote June 28, 1934. “Hampered because of curtailed class schedules due to the reconstruction of the new school, the commendable results obtained are truly remarkable.”

Bill Dolback, president of the Ticonderoga Historial Society, said the Ti High fire was major event in the community’s history. The school was constructed in the colonial revival style as a tribute to the United States centennial after a long and sometimes heated debate about the best-possible location.

“We’ve always taken pride in our school system,” Dolback said. “Education has always been at the forefront throughout the history of the community.”

Ticonderoga’s first school was constructed in 1792 near Fort Ticonderoga, Dolback said.

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