December 28, 1952 - The Great Fire
 

 
 

The Fire:
1953 Anchor, p. 134 1953 Anchor, p. 135 1953 Anchor, p. 136 1953 Anchor, p. 137
Courtesy of Tom Norris (HHS - '73) of VA - 01/13/05
Thanks, Tom!
The Accounts:
   
  Monday Morning,
December 29, 1952
Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk, VA
Monday Morning,
December 29, 1952
Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk, VA
Monday Afternoon,
December 29, 1952
Ledger-Dispatch, Norfolk, VA
 
Courtesy of Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 01/14/05
Thanks, Dave!
The Rebuilding:
1955 Anchor, p. 2 1955 Anchor, p. 3 1955 Anchor, p. 9 1955 Anchor, p. 15 1955 Anchor, p. 37
         
1955 Anchor, p.41 1955 Anchor, p. 50 1955 Anchor, p. 51 1955 Anchor, p. 62 1955 Anchor, p. 76
Courtesy of Eleanor Buckley Nowitzky ('59) of NC - 05/20/04 and 01/14/05
Thanks, Eleanor!

Did you know that the current "1955 Anchor, P. 51" is inverted? 
 But, the power house was not at that end of the stadium seats; it was on the 32nd Street end of the stadium.
If you invert the image, you get:



Now ... THAT looks right, doncha think?

- Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 01/14/05
WOWZERONI!!!  Thanks, David!
I still don't know how you were able to correct that faulty image after 49 years,
but I'll chalk it up to a combination of your magical abilities
and that fact that you are a graduate of the United States Naval Academy.
 

The Memories:
         


Hi Carol; 
I was checking out the Newsletters and I came to the Great Fire.
My dad was the Head of the Custodial Staff, and I remember the fire and the clean-up.
It was quite a mess and I sure remember the damage. We were living in Marshall Courts Apartments
at the time. I would go over to the school with my dad in the afternoons during the clean-up, what a mess.  

- Catherine Slusser Hudson ('64) of VA - 01/15/05
WOW!  Thanks, Cathy!
 

 

On Monday, December 29, 1952, when people rose to read the morning paper they found an article telling
of the destruction of the interior of Newport News High School by fire. As stated by the Daily Press, the fire
was reported in the school at 10:10 PM, Sunday, December 28, 1952. The fire started in the auditorium and
spread rapidly, being fed by the curtains, props, and seats. The fire eventually spread to the roof at the rear
of the auditorium causing it to collapse. The damage was confined to the center of the building, although
both wings did sustain a considerable amount of damage from smoke, heat, and water. As of press time
on the 29th, the cause of the fire had not yet been determined although the police were investigating arson.
In the December 30th addition of the Daily Press, it was reported that burglary appeared to be a motive for the
fire as an attempt had been made to open the safe in the Principal's office. The damage from the fire was
estimated in excess of $500,000. By the following day, the 31st, more information emerged about the night
of the fire. It seems that some of the classrooms had been ransacked before the fire. It was also reported that
the school would re-open January 12, 1953. At the time of the fire the school was valued at $2,000,000 and,
insured as much, was satisfactorily covered for all the damages done by the fire. Finally the Saturday, January
3rd addition of the Daily Press reported that three young boys had confessed to the fire as well as the Sherwin
Williams Paint Store and the C&O Warehouse. The boys, aged 9, 11, and 13, described the events of the night
of the fire. First they broke the glass in a rear door to get in. Then using a candle for light they tried to open the
safe. When they thought they heard someone coming, they threw the candle down on the auditorium floor and left
by the back door. The destruction of the auditorium caused problems for others than those of the school community,
as it had been the community's meeting place. Now other arrangements had to be made until it could be rebuilt.

For reasons that were never made clear, the renovation of the auditorium did not take place until two years later
in 1954. It is safe to assume, however, that as other renovations and additions were necessary, they decided
to hold up all of the work until the total sum necessary could be obtained and all of the work done at the same
time. The auditorium that burned was on the second floor and designed to hold 1250 people. The new auditorium
was designed by the architectural firm of Carneal & Johnson of Richmond and did away with the balcony.

- Bill Gross ('48) of VA - 01/19/05

WOWZERONI!!!  What a revelation!
I spent my whole life believing this was a deliberate arson by a gang of disgruntled teenage delinquents,
and instead, it was a bungled robbery attempt by three little boys!
Thanks so much, Bill!

 

 


We Didn't Start the Fire

(Billy Joel)
 

We Didn't Start the Fire

Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray
South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio
Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, television
North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe


We Didn't Start the Fire

It was always burning
Since the world's been turning

We Didn't Start the Fire

Rosenbergs, H-bomb, Sugar Ray, Panmunjom
Brando, "The King and I" and "The Catcher in the Rye"
Eisenhower, vaccine, England's got a new Queen
Marciano, Liberace, Santayana goodbye

CHORUS

We Didn't Start the Fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it

Joseph Stalin, Malenkov, Nasser and Prokofiev
Rockefeller, Campanella, Communist Bloc
Roy Cohn, Juan Peron, Toscanini, dacron
Dien Bien Phu falls, "Rock Around the Clock"
Einstein, James Dean, Brooklyn's got a winning team
Davy Crockett, Peter Pan, Elvis Presley, Disneyland
Bardot, Budapest, Alabama, Khrushchev
Princess Grace, "Peyton Place", trouble in the Suez

CHORUS

We Didn't Start the Fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it


Little Rock, Pasternak, Mickey Mantle, Kerouac
Sputnik, Chou En-Lai, "Bridge on the River Kwai"
Lebanon, Charles de Gaulle, California baseball
Starkweather homicide, children of thalidomide
Buddy Holly, "Ben Hur", space monkey, Mafia
Hula hoops, Castro, Edsel is a no-go
U-2, Syngman Rhee, ayola and Kennedy
Chubby Checker, "Psycho", Belgians in the Congo

CHORUS

 We Didn't Start the Fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it


Hemingway, Eichmann, "Stranger in a Strange Land"
Dylan, Berlin, Bay of Pigs invasion
"Lawrence of Arabia", British Beatlemania
Ole Miss, John Glenn, Liston beats Patterson
Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British politician sex
JFK, blown away, what else do I have to say


CHORUS

We Didn't Start the Fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it


Birth control, Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon back again
Moonshot, Woodstock, Watergate, punk rock
Begin, Reagan, Palestine, terror on the airline
Ayatollah's in Iran, Russians in Afghanistan
"Wheel of Fortune", Sally Ride, heavy metal, suicide
Foreign debts, homeless vets, AIDS, crack, Bernie Goetz
Hypodermics on the shores, China's under martial law
Rock and roller, cola wars, I can't take it anymore


CHORUS

We Didn't Start the Fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it


We didn't start the fire
But when we are gone
Will it still burn on, and on, and on, and on...


(This page was created on 01/14/05.)



"We Didn't Start the Fire" midi
courtesy of http://www.midi4u.com/artists/b/billy_joel/
at the suggestion of Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 01/14/05
Thanks, Dave!

"We Didn't Start the Fire" lyrics courtesy of http://www.robinsweb.com/midi-lyrics/start_fire.html
also at the suggestion of Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 01/14/05
Thanks again, Dave!

First Fire Divider Bar clip art courtesy of http://www.feebleminds-gifs.com/graphics-sitemap.html - 07/06/04

Second and Third Fire Divider Bars clip art courtesy of http://www.worldfiredepartments.com/animations/lines.htm - 07/06/04

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