Collection: Arkansas History Commission Library
Source: Photographs by Earnie Deane
High School and Gymnasium Destroyed by Fire, Dec 12 1957
The slideshow above is part of a group of negatives taken for the December 29, 1957, Arkansas Gazette article “Walnut Ridge Rises to Emergency After Costly School Fire”.
Three basketball games had just been played on the night of Dec 11, 1957, during the Walnut Ridge High School Invitational Tournament. The gymnasium was emptied by 11pm, but within a few hours was completely engulfed in flames. Speculation was that a cigarette tossed under the bleachers had caused the fire, but we’ll never know.
Cost of the fire exceeded $300,000 in damages. Reporters at the time said it was the biggest loss in the history of the town. It definitely was a major, devastating loss, but not as bad as the fire of 1893 that literally destroyed half of downtown Walnut Ridge.
Read the details of the fire in the Dec 12, 1957 Times Dispatch by clicking the images below to enlarge: