Friday, May 13, 2011

November 24, 1946 - Harbor Beach School Burns Down

I recently posted a picture of my Grandma Ruth as a young woman on a fire escape in front of a brick building that I didn't recognize.  Several family members later told me that it was the old Harbor Beach School that had burned down when they were younger.  And my mother told me that the night the school burned down was one of her earliest memories.  She remembers standing across the street with her parents and watching the fire, but she couldn't remember how old she was at the time.

So I decided to see if I could find anymore information online about the school fire.  Unfortunately historical copies of the Harbor Beach Times (published from 1899-1998*) or the Huron Daily Tribune are not (currently) available online.  And the local Harbor Beach Area District Library does not have any historical photos on their website either.

So I started with a Google search of "Harbor Beach"+school+November+1946+fire -- which did not turn up anything specific.  Then I tried a search of the Michigan newspapers available at (a subscription service) in hopes of finding an article from a nearby community.

Imagine my surprise and delight when I found the following article on the front page of the Lundington Daily News, dated November 25, 1946.  For those not familiar with the state of Michigan ... Ludington is on the complete opposite side of the state -- not exactly what I would call "nearby". ;o) 

Ludington Daily News
November 25, 1946
Additionally, I found the following article on the front page of the Cass City Chronicle, dated November 29, 1946 which was available at the Rawson Memorial Library website.  I have been able to find other historical Huron County events at this site previously.  The library has archived versions of the Cass City Chronicle and Cass City Enterprise dating back to the 1800's that have been scanned to digital format. 

Cass City Chronicle
November 29, 1946
 It appears that this second article was written after the investigations into the cause were completed and provides a some additional details as to the timeline of events, the loss of records, and the fact that the cause was never determined.  "Fire of undetermined origin" seems so strange in our day and age with forensic teams on tv solving crimes in less than an hour. 

Plus an interesting side note is that the article indicated that there was $200,000 worth of damage done.  A quick calculation done at The Inflation Calculator shows that: What cost $200,000 in 1946 would cost $2,208,800.23 in 2010.  WOW!!  That must have been a fancy school ;o)

If you have any memories of this event and how it affected your life that you'd like to share with me ... please feel free to leave a comment on this post or email me your remembrances.  Meanwhile I shall have to think on what are some of my earliest memories.  Funny how time just all seems to melt together.  I guess that's why we have been asked to keep a journal; now to dust mine off and add a few more entries this weekend.

Love & Aloha,
~Cuzn Amy
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