Members of the Hattiesburg Public School District Board of Trustees met in executive session during their monthly meeting Feb. 9 to discuss, among other items, the fire that burned out the interior of the old Hattiesburg High School gymnasium in the early morning hours of Feb. 7.
An investigation into the incident is ongoing, but Superintendent Robert Williams said following the board meeting that the district is committed to restoring the building. Immediate efforts, he said, will focus on stabilization of the gymnasium’s exterior walls, which are all that remain. There is concern, Williams continued, that inclement weather could compromise what remains of the structure.
A feasibility study has been pursued in recent months to look at the potential for restoration of the gymnasium, which was constructed in 1937 and was used in conjunction with the historic Hattiesburg High School building on North Main Street.
Located on Forrest Street and across from the north side of Hawkins Elementary School, the facility was used by varsity and junior varsity boys and girls basketball teams up until the mid-1980s when work was completed on the current gymnasium at the HHS campus on Hutchinson Avenue.
Board President Delores McNair said the old gymnasium holds a lot of memories for generations of former students, teachers and coaches.
“Our hearts are heavy,” she said of the damage to the building