The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

October 1, 2009

Fire damages band room at historic Trinity High School

ATHENS — The band room at old Trinity High School sustained fire, smoke and water damage this morning but Athens Councilman Jimmy Gill said it will not impede plans to preserve the historic building.

Athens firefighters were called to the blaze off Brownsferry Street at 8:22 a.m. and attacked the fire along one wall and in the roof.

“Somebody was staying in the structure and it appears someone lit a warming fire and it went up the wall and got into the roof line,” said Fire Chief Danny Southard. “It got into the fiber and tar roof and we had to wet it down good.”

The heat and flames turned gray part of the band room’s blue metal roof and damaged one corner of the room, firefighters said.

Gill said the damage won’t prevent efforts to preserve part of the school as a museum.

Near the entrance to the property, a sign reads: Future Home of Fort Henderson “The Fort” to Trinity School project.

Missionaries opened the school in 1865 for the children of former slaves after the Civil War. For 105 years, it was the only school in Limestone County to educate black students. The school finally closed in 1970, following the federal desegregation order. The school’s location is also historic. It rests on the former site of Fort Henderson, which was an earthwork structure occupied by Union troops during the Civil War. The association also plans to recreate the fort at the site. They have been actively fundraising over the past few years and hope to accumulate enough money to secure a federal grant for the project, Gill said.

“We may have to use some of the money we have raised to improve security,” he said.

Several buildings at the site need to be secured with something more substantial than plywood. The group could use any discarded iron fencing or similar items to help get the job done.

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