The Old Fayette County High

Does anyone remember the old high school? I’m talking about the one that burned in the early fifties. It was located on the lot where the Fayette County Board of Education is now. This was where I went to high school and graduated in 1950.

There were not many high school students back then. In fact there were only fifty-nine in my graduating class. Although there were only twelve or thirteen classrooms in the whole building, there was enough room to also house all of the sixth and seventh grade elementary school children from the Fayetteville area.

When I was in the sixth grade the building had a hallway that extended the length of the building with student restrooms at each end. About half way down the hallway was a large auditorium that extended toward the city cemetery. The auditorium had a large stage with small dressing rooms on each side. The big black stage curtain was made of a heavy velveteen material that had the school’s initials FCHS printed on it in gold. Permanent seats filled the room. The two back rows nearest the hallway were elevated creating a small wall about five feet high. We often had chapel here with all of the students (sixth through eleventh grades). I can remember going to the auditorium to listen to President Truman’s speech live on radio. Mr. Owens the principal told us to listen for the phrase, “civil rights”. He said this would be a phrase that we would hear many more times in our lives. I had no idea what the phrase meant and it was some time before I did. The auditorium also served as the hub of the county’s large group activities such as movies, plays, and gospel singings. There was also a large entrance that opened from the hallway toward town. This was considered the front door even though it did not face the road.

There was also a building that housed the agricultural and homemaking departments. This building still stands at the back of the parking lot of the Board of Education. When the school burned this part was not harmed. It was built by the NYA, a group created by the Roosevelt administration during the big depression to train young men for employment while giving them a paying job. There was a machine shop and a community canning plant in the basement operated by the NYA. The WPA another government program to help give people employment built a large gymnasium which burned in 1951.

During World War II the government built a large metal building where people (mainly women and men not eligible for the armed forces) could be trained in industrial type metal working so they could participate in the war effort. Mr. Homer Neely was the instructor. After the War Mr. Neely was employed by the school system to teach what was called “shop” for the high school boys using this same building and its equipment. I believe a part of this building still exists.

There was a huge baseball field out back which was not only used by the school but by local teams and as the county fair grounds. There was a wooden fence that surrounded it and a good sized spectator stand with a shelter.

I hope someone remembers this place for that’s about all that remains. It served the community well and was very special to many citizens.