Officials seek public's help in historic Quincy school fire investigation

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By: WCTV Eyewitness News
April 6, 2017

QUINCY, Fla. (WCTV) – The State Fire Marshal's Office is seeking the public's help in an investigation into a fire at the William Stevens School in Quincy last month.

The historic school on West 4th Avenue was declared a total loss following the fire on March 26th.

The Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations (BFAI) is asking that any members of the public who may have been on scene at the Stevens School prior to first responders arriving on scene, and were able to take any pictures or videos, or have any information regarding the fire, to please call BFAI Investigator Jason Roberts at 850-413-3911.

Officials say the investigation is open and ongoing.

By: WCTV Eyewitness News
March 28, 2017

QUINCY, Fla. (WCTV) -- The State Fire Marshal's Office is continuing to investigate a fire at the William Stevens School in Quincy on Sunday.

Officials say the building is a total loss and the structure of the building being compromised poses a serious hazard for investigators working to determine the cause of the fire.

Officials say the investigation is open and ongoing.

By: Lanetra Bennett
March 27, 2017

QUINCY, Fla. (WCTV) -- Community members in Gadsden County are devastated by the loss of the William Stevens School. The historic landmark burned down early Sunday morning. Authorities say the fire started around 1:19 a.m. The school is located on West 4th Avenue near Live Oak and Cooper Streets in Quincy.

Authorities say it took six hours to get the fire under control.

The school was built for all grades in the 1920s. Residents say it was the only school for blacks in Gadsden County before integration.

Smoke was still spewing from the debris on Monday afternoon.

"It's a sad thing for Gadsden County," said 96-year-old Maggie King.

She remembers attending the school from third grade, until she graduated in 1946. Seeing the school where she later became a teacher breaks her heart.

"It was just devastating. It was kind of like you lost a relative when you hear of a death like that. It was similar to that kind of feeling that you have," King said.

King says her experience at school inspired her to become a teacher at Stevens School. She even named her son, Bernard, after one of her teachers at the school.

Joyce Fields Redding can recall almost everything about her school years. Looking at the smoking school, she pointed out all of her classrooms. "The room that's standing in front of the two palm trees, that's my first grade class. Right there was my second, where the sign is. Third grade, Ms. Alice May Jackson; fourth grade was Ford, fifth grade, Ms. Crenshaw."

Redding went to Stevens School from first through eleventh grade, then graduated in 1956 from Carter Parramore, which she says replaced Stevens school.

She said, "I was just devastated. I said, oh my school has been destroyed."

Former student, Geraldine Holt, said, "I am sad definitely. This was special. This is our history. Yes, this is our history. It was so saddened to hear that it had burned."

An estimated million dollars of history and artifacts were destroyed. The old school had become home to an African Artifact and Cultural museum in recent years.

The museum's owner, Priscilla Stevens Kruize, said, "It's death. It's very, very bad for me. I had many pieces here. I just cannot believe that."

There was also a barber shop housed in the building.

No injuries were reported. At this time, we do not know the cause of the fire.

By: WCTV Eyewitness News
March 26, 2017

GADSDEN CO., Fla. (WCTV) -- A historic school in Quincy has been declared a total loss after being destroyed in a Sunday morning fire.

Quincy fire officials say they received a call around 1 a.m. about a structure fire at Gadsden County Stevens High School. The building is located on the 1000 block of West 4th Street, near Live Oak and Cooper Streets.

Fire crews were on scene for most of the morning, stabilizing and securing the structure. The school was declared a total loss by officials.

At this time, the cause of the fire is still unclear. The State Fire Marshal's Office is currently investigating.

Fire officials were able to confirm that the building has been registered as a historical landmark.

According to the Visit Florida website, the Stevens School was built in the 1920s. It's named after Dr. William Spencer Stevens, the first African American to open a medical practice in Quincy in 1906.

The Gadsden County Board of Commissioners issued a statement through social media saying that the school had been slated to receive a new roof in the near future.

"It is with great sadness that we announce the fire that consumed the historic Stevens School. There were plans to put on a new roof in the next few months and ultimately renovate the entire building in the near future. Pray for our county as we find a way to move forward during this difficult time," the statement reads.

There were no injuries reported in the fire.

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