Fire at Historic Stewart M. Jones School

Stewart M. Jones School, Laurel--in happier times

Stewart M. Jones School, Laurel–in happier times

Fire broke out at Laurel’s Stewart M. Jones Middle School last Friday evening, gutting one of the three wings of the historic building.  The school building, one of the finest examples of high-style Georgian Revival in the state, was built in 1927 and designed by prominent Meridian architect P.J. Krouse (who also designed the Meridian City Hall [1915]). It is one of the few school buildings in the state built on an E-Plan floorplan–where the auditorium forms the center wing and two classroom wings are at the ends. The fire damaged the southern classroom wing and the southern section of the main block, and according to the newspaper article, water and smoke damage extends into the auditorium wing as well.

Stewart M. Jones floorplan--the shaded area on the right seems to be the area that was most heavily damaged in the fire.

Stewart M. Jones floorplan–the shaded area on the right seems to be the area that was most heavily damaged in the fire. Photos show the roof of the south wing is almost completely gone.

Here’s a little clip from the original Laurel Leader Call–see Sunday’s full article with photos of the fire here and Tuesday’s follow-up article here:

With the assistance of the wealth of manpower, modern equipment, and a firewall, the fire was contained to the southern portion of the building. But, other areas, including the school’s auditorium, did receive smoke and water damage.

The destroyed portion included several classrooms and the school’s library.

“I saw a very historic building in our community that had gone up in flames,” Laurel School District board member Rev. Earnest Thompson said. “Think of the years in that building: the students, the faculty, how they cherish this historic site. To see the building go up in flames is heartbreaking.”

This quote by Miranda Beard, the school board president gives me hope that the building will be repaired:

“We’re thankful there were no children in the facility,” Beard said. “School ended Thursday. We hate the loss. We’ll have to access the damage. Restoration, I’m sure, is possible.”

The school was just finishing a major renovation, part of which was funded through a grant from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. The building is a designated Mississippi Landmark.

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Categories: Architectural Research, Cool Old Places, Grants, Laurel, Renovation Projects, Schools

4 replies

  1. i am very sad because jones middle school was soon going to be my school. i hope the school will be repaired!!!!!!!!

    Like

  2. It’s a shame that the leadership has let the building sit this long without moving forward to fix it. I don’t understand why it continues to sit, over two years after the fire?

    It was quite a building in its time, and could be again for many more generations of students, if they would just get on with it!

    Like

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