From early frame structures to large, impressive brick buildings,
Marion High School has been located on a number of different sites.
Prior to the development of grade levels, the Marion public schools
occupied a variety of frame and brick buildings throughout Marion,
including a former Seminary building (Weaver 4). In 1879, the
high school grades were moved to the Presbyterian Church building
rented for this purpose. In the spring of 1882, two new grade
school buildings were completed, and the high school moved into
the old Seminary building previously used by the elementary grades.
In 1887 or 1888, the third story of the Tharp Block (Fourth and
Branson streets) was rented for additional space (Weaver 5). As
the residents of Marion placed more value on secondary education,
plans for the construction of a new high school building began.
In September 1891, Marion High School moved into its first
new school building (Weaver 5). This brick structure cost $65,000
and was outfitted with the most modern equipment available ("Marions").
When the school opened, it employed five teachers. Shortly afterward,
two more teachers were hired, and by the fall of 1897, there were
nine faculty members (Weaver 5). The school remained in this facility
until 1902, when disaster struck. One Sunday evening, the beautiful
school building was badly damaged by fire. It is assumed that
the blaze originated in the furnace room and spread through the
ventilation system, although the actual cause of the fire remains
a mystery. The entire building was engulfed in flames, and all
attempts by the Marion Fire Department to stop it were futile.
The total loss was estimated at $80,000 ("Marions").
After an examination of the scene, it was discovered that many
of the exterior walls were not badly damaged and could be reused.
The school board quickly made plans to rebuild, while classes
were held temporarily at the Odd Fellows building ("Will").
Only four years after the building was reopened, in 1906, another
fire consumed the structure. This fire, also on a Sunday evening,
completely destroyed the building, allowing none of the original
structure to be reused ("City"). The building was again
rebuilt, but only two years later it burned again. Unlike the
other fires, this third fire was suspected to have been the result
of arson, since a can of coal oil and a pile of oil-soaked shirts
were found near the place where the fire started. It was suspected
that someone, using the fire escape to gain access to the attic,
attempted to destroy the building by igniting some rags. This
time, the firemen saved the majority of the building by confining
the fire to the attic. In spite of the heavy smoke and water damage,
the schools administration decided to continue classes in
the building. ("Building"). Two more times, MHS would
be forced to move, however these moves were due to a rapidly expanding