Fire razed Smith Mills high school in 1946 — and a hot controversy followed

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Smith Mills Consolidated School was erected in 1925 and consisted of 12 classrooms and a combined gym/ auditorium. The school received its accreditation in 1926 and an

The controversy that accompanied the end of the high school at Smith Mills was almost as hot as the fire that destroyed it.

The building had been erected in 1925 on a lot donated by Dr. J.W. Cooper, back during a period when there were high schools scattered across the county. The other seven were in Cairo, Corydon, Hebbardsville, Niagara, Robards, Spottsville and Weaverton, although several were built after the one at Smith Mills.

The blaze was discovered by Charles Trent about 12:30 the morning of Sept. 24, 1946. “When discovered, the fire had gained such headway that efforts of residents to control the flames were unavailing,” The Gleaner of Sept. 25 reported. The three-story frame structure collapsed about 2 a.m.

The Smith Mills school was the largest school in the county system at that time except for Weaverton and had been insured for only $16,000 of its $25,000 value. It was a consolidated school that had brought under one roof all 12 grades from the Mt. Vernon ferry area, McDonald’s Landing, Geneva, Utley, Happy Hollow, Midway and other one-room schools of the old 8th Magisterial District.

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