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April 17, 2024

Illinois’ last known two-room wooden schoolhouse goes up in flames –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On March 31, 2018

ECWd photo Clarksburg Schoolhouse – July 2017

CLARKSBURG, (Shelby County) IL. (ECWd) –

History up in flames. After months of sometimes heated debate about the future of Illinois’ last known two-room wooden schoolhouse, the building is gone.

Some residents wanted to restore the building, or at least maintain its current condition, but Township officials apparently did not want to spend any funds for that purpose.

In this first photo taken in July 2017, you can see where a portion of the south wall/foundation was giving way due to age.

In November/December 2017, the Township voted to tear the building down and to sell the property.

WAND-TV’s Doug Wolfe arrived at the scene of the fire as it was happening (here) and described what he saw, along with talking to a local resident who did not appreciate the fact that the township board decided to tear the building down.

ECWd photo Clarksburg Schoolhouse – July 2017

According to published reports, the township is claiming it was burning rubbish on the property, and that is what caused this other fire (after the building was taken down) – as you can see in this photo, the burn pile mentioned also contained old tires (here) and was never actually set on fire, which shoots holes in their excuse that it caused the fire of the schoolhouse remains.

The schoolhouse, formerly known as Bethel School was placed on the National Register of Historical Places in 2001, one of three site in Illinois to be placed on the registry that month (here). It was built around 1892 – source: Wikipedia (here).

Below, you can see user-submitted photos of the fire and Sunday-evening removal of items from the schoolhouse.

Watch a user-submitted video of the fire before the fire department showed up (here) and after they arrived (here).

A complaint was filed with the Illinois EPA for the uncontrolled burn and for burning without permit.

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  • M. Madigan
    Posted at 11:36h, 31 March

    Those doors and windows in that red pickup truck are worth some not unsubstantial monies as antique architectural salvage sales. Where’s the money from that?

  • Ed
    Posted at 13:59h, 31 March

    Wink,wink, accidental fires do happen the day after you move thinks out of a building. Isn’t that a happy coincidence?

  • Jannie
    Posted at 14:15h, 31 March

    What a shame – this historic bldg which could have either been moved or used as a tourist attraction. Like accidental fire – the township is just plain stupid.

  • G. Hurst
    Posted at 18:08h, 31 March

    Ahh, I like M. Madigan’s observation. What HAS become of those things ? Good eye, M. Also, the official(s) sure would not make very good arsonists, eh ? At least, not ones who would go uncharged.

  • Harry Jackson
    Posted at 02:49h, 07 January

    So let me get this right…They first removed the windows and doors, which had some value to the citizens of Shelby County, then shortly after, they accidently set it on fire. And these were the people who wanted to dispose of it, in opposition of other citizens who wanted to save it, correct? And this was a building, the last 2 room wooden schoolhouse, in the state, which was placed on the NATIONAL Historic record, in 2001. Correct?