Marshfield Athletics History: Football equipment spared from fire
By Kris Leonhardt
As the Marshfield School District prepares to make improvements to their athletic facilities, the Marshfield Hub City Times takes a look at the district’s sports programs and facilities over the years.
In the summer of 1935, the school board began deliberations on construction of a new building to replace McKinley High School. With serious overcrowding and an aging structure that was deemed a fire hazard, the need was great; still, the matter waned.
The district’s hand was forced, however, when fire alarms sounded on Oct. 13, 1936. As the community watched McKinley being swallowed by flames, Marshfield volunteer firefighters battled the fire for five hours. With the pumper truck throwing 1,000 gallons of water a minute at the beloved school, the fire continued to eat away at the interior of the structure, until just a shell of the facility remained.
High School Coach Jack Murphy; elementary teacher, Paul Thiede; and custodian, Walter Widmann are credited with saving the school’s football equipment and the office records, but all other supplies and equipment were destroyed.
The school only lost one day of classes, however, as the high school students were packed into the Purdy building along with the junior high (middle school) students– raising the student body from 400 to 1,000. The facilities created a temporary arrangement for both classes and athletics.
Focus then turned to building a new school to accommodate the senior high students. The school board deliberated over 21 sites for a proposed high school before settling on the 17-acre Vannedom-Roddis property on East Fourth Street and South Palmetto Avenue. They purchased the property for $7,700.
Construction on the new “Senior High School” was completed in the spring of 1940 and an open house was held March 16-17. Total cost for construction for the facility was $480,000.
Next week: The creation of a football stadium
A special thanks to the MHS Athletic Department for providing the material for this series. For more information on the school district’s current athletic facility project, visit www.marshfieldschools.org. To donate, contact the Marshfield Area Community Foundation at 715-384-9029.