The Bullitt County History Museum

A Memento From the Old Shepherdsville High School Gym

The following article by Charles Hartley was published on 28 Aug 2016.

Donald Crowe recently allowed the museum to scan some albums, and the pictures shown at the bottom of this page were in it. We're grateful to Donald for sharing these with us.

Gym remains with old school building in the background.

It's hard to believe that it has been 50 years since the old gym at Shepherdsville High School burned to the ground; but Curt Hart reminded me of it just recently.

I was in my first year as a teacher at the school, and taught in the old school building south of the gym. School had been dismissed for spring break on Friday, and the next day, Saturday, April 9, 1966, was when it happened.

At the time, we lived on 4th Street, just west of Buckman Street. We heard the sirens, and saw the smoke rising from the direction of the school, and my first thought was that the old school building was on fire. It was only after we had gotten closer that we realized it was the gym.

Memorial Gym early in its history.

The gym held a lot of good memories for a lot of folks dating back to its construction in 1924. Professor Jack Sanders, then the school's principal, led the effort to build what was to be identified as the Bullitt County Memorial Hall and Shepherdsville High School Auditorium.

The crowning touch was a memorial plaque within the building to honor those who lost their lives during World War I. That plaque survived the fire, and is now located in one of the display rooms of the Bullitt County History Museum.

Down through the years that building was used for concerts, plays, basketball games, and many community-wide events, and its loss was sorely felt, particularly by the school basketball team that was forced to play all its games on the road the following fall until a new structure could be erected.

According to The Pioneer News report, the financial loss was "estimated at approximately $100,000 for the building and several thousand dollars for contents which included chairs, P.A. system, ball equipment, and students' personal equipment."

The paper also reported "the blaze was too extensive for firemen to enter the building, and all contents along with the building was lost."

Well, as we know the memorial plaque was saved, and now, thanks to Curt Hart, we know of at least one more item that survived the blaze.

Curt Hart, 1966

Curt was a senior at S.H.S. that spring. He had been very active throughout his high school career, participating in the band as drum major, taking part in dramas, working on the school newspaper, and playing baseball among his other activities. He was also one of four musicians selected as "most talented" for the school annual.

But on that fateful day, he did one other thing. I'll let him tell you about it:

"We lived just off Buckman Street in Shepherdsville, just blocks from S.H.S. On the day when I learned of the fire, I ran to the high school complex. When I arrived the gym was in flames.

the football

"There was a side door to the old gym, where I had played many concerts as a band member and in the pep band during basketball season. I ran into a hall as smoke began to fill the old gym. On one shelf I spotted the enclosed football. This is all I could grab at the time and ran out."

Curt, who is now an instructor and photographer at the University of Memphis, sent us that old football as a memento for the museum's collection.

Today, there's little left to show that the school ever existed. The old school building where I first taught was torn down first, and then, following the flood of 1997, the "new" building came down as well.

All that's left is the football field, and the "new" gym which now serves as the home of the school system's maintenance staff.

But in my mind's eye I still see it all, and I imagine that Curt and a lot of others do too.

Copyright 2016 by Charles Hartley, Shepherdsville KY. All rights are reserved. No part of the content of this page may be included in any format in any place without the written permission of the copyright holder.

The Bullitt County History Museum, a service of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society, is located in the county courthouse at 300 South Buckman Street (Highway 61) in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. The museum, along with its research room, is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Saturday appointments are available by calling 502-921-0161 during our regular weekday hours. Admission is free. The museum, as part of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society, is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization and is classified as a 509(a)2 public charity. Contributions and bequests are deductible under section 2055, 2106, or 2522 of the Internal Revenue Code. Page last modified: 13 Jan 2024 . Page URL: