Reward fund established for historic school destroyed by fire

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Photographer - Chad Darnall
Reporter - Robert Bradfield
Web Editor - Mason Stevenson

FREDONIA, Ky. – New developments in the investigation surrounding a museum fire in western Kentucky.

The Fredonia Heritage Committee says they’ve established a reward fund for information into the fire that destroyed the Wilson Blair One Room School and Museum.

In the overnight hours of January 14th, flames destroyed the building.

The former African-American School closed in 1948.  Officials renovated it in 2006 using money from a History Channel grant.

$500 is in the reward fund now, but Fredonia Heritage Committee member Linda Bennett says the amount will grow as donations come in.

If the reward isn’t given, the money in the account goes toward building a memorial at the site of the burned school.

If you wish to give to the fund, send money to:

Fredonia Valley Bank

Attn:  The Wilson Blair School Reward

P.O. Box 135

Fredonia, KY  42411

Earlier story:

FREDONIA, Ky. - "You can just visualize people sitting there.  And you can just see different ones doing this.  It's nice, it is nice," said Virginia Blair.

In 2006 she gave Local 6 a tour of her childhood school.  "Spent some happy days here," she said with a smile.

But now her memories are all that's left.  A fire tore through the former African American one room school early Monday morning.  Blair watched from a window in her home.

"It was just burning, burning, burning," Blair recalled.

She spent her elementary and middle school years inside the building that now bares her name.  "There were two of us to a seat," she remembered.

The school closed in 1948 - an extensive renovation started in 2006.

"Its a very unique part of history that can't be replaced," said an emotional Linda Bennett.

She's the vice president of the Fredonia Heritage Committee - one of the groups that spear-headed the restoration.  Part of the money came from a History Channel grant.
     
"The fire marshal said it probably went up in less than 10 minutes.  So that's pretty quick for the time that was put into it," she said.

And she's hoping a brass school bell survived the flames.  "It can't be replaced.  It's gone forever," she recalled.
 

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