Fire Destroys Public School Building Last Wednesday Night published in the Bird Island Union March 9, 1916
Had a Good Start before Discovered–22 Below Temp Weather and Dep Snow Hampers Firemen–School to Resume Work Monday Morning.
The Birds Island Public school building was totally destroyed by fire last Wednesday night. The fire was discovered by Levi Mitchell and J.J. Desmond about eleven o’clock when Mr. and Mrs. Mitchel were starting home after spending the evening at the Desmond home and the alarm was given. The fire department worked under great difficulty in getting its apparatus to the fire owing to the 22 below weather and deep snow but could do nothing to save the building because the fire had started on the north side of the basement near the steam boiler and had obtained a hold on the soft coal supply which filled the basement and building with a dense smoke in which no fireman could work. The firemen tried to put out the flames through the north basement windows as a last resort, but it was soon given up and as so headway could be made and inside of two hours the whole building had been gutted and shortly afterward the south wall caved in.
The building was insured for $11,000 and the contents for $7,000and the loss is total. The building was probably worth about $2,000 and the contents around $10,000 according to an inventory recently taken. The safe was opened Sunday and the contents which consisted of school records found in fairly good condition.
As to the origin of the fire no one knows how it started. M.J. Battendorf, janitor, left the building as usual about nine o’clock that night after banking his fire and everything was all right at that time.
The building was erected in 1899 by the village to be given to the county as a courthouse if Bird Island was made the county seat. It was used by the village as a hall until 1902 when it was bought by the school district and remodeled into a schoolhouse. With the addition of a complete high school course and the growth of the school the building had become unfitted for the purpose and the state finally demanded a new building, and this matter would have come before the voters of the district sometime this year anyway, so outside of the present inconvenience to pupils and teachers for quarters and equipment there is not much cause of to worries ver the loss; although it would have been much more convenient to have had the old building until the new one was erected and ready for them.
At the _______ (Editor’s note: the text from the scan of the microfilmed newspaper was too dark to read) decided to take the Easter vacation now which would allow time for securing quarters and equipment for the reopening of school, which will convene next Monday. The high school department will be quartered in the village hall, using the second floor for an assembly room and the lower rooms for the various high school departments. The grade will be located in the M.E. Church, Norwegian Lutheran Church and old Baptist Church buildings, but the definite location of each grade will not be given until the Monday morning meeting at the village hall as the present plans may be changing to some extent.
Bird Island and the residents of school district No. 64 will have a problem to solve in the near future to provide a new school building. We have the opportunity at hand to place our schools at the head of all of the schools in the county by erecting a modern building, fully equipped that will draw pupils from every part of the county. As long as we have to build, let’s not be backward in the amount to be spent, but wit the characteristic generousness that has made Bird Island famous put up a building that will stand out in Central Minnesota. You will find the big taxpayers in favor of a building for the future and a few thousand dollars more or less cuts but little figure when you consider the returns in the coming years.