A beloved token of Dry Creek history has been lost, as the historic Dry Creek school building was destroyed in a fire on Wednesday.
Referred to by locals as the “White House” the impressive two-story colonial mansion has served as an iconic landmark in the Dry Creek community for a century, having just turned 100 years old this year. On Wednesday evening, the building was declared a complete loss as flames brought the structure to ash.
“It’s incredibly sad to see because this building has been a part of the lives of generations of people here in Dry Creek, and has continued to be used by the Dry Creek Camp,” Dry Creek Baptist Church pastor Charlie Bailey told the American Press.
Opened in 1912, the building first served as Dry Creek High School and was later inducted into the National Register of Historic Places. In its most recent years, it was used to house performing guests of the Dry Creek Camp. The building included several hotel-style guest rooms and two large conference rooms, as well as a commercial kitchen.
The only thing left standing from the structure Wednesday was its historic school bell.
Last summer the building, along with much of southwest Louisiana sustained heavy damage from Hurricane Laura and had been closed until repairs could be made. That also confused many at the scene on Wednesday as to how the fire began, as there had not been any power running to the building for some time.
Officials confirmed to the American Press that the state Fire Marshal’s office has been requested to assist with the investigation.
On Thursday, Fire Marshal officials said deputies have not found any suspicious circumstances as of yet, but are continuing their investigation.
“Obviously with the weather the way it has been, our deputies are working to gather information from local weather experts to determine if weather played a role,” spokesperson Ashley Rodrigue told the American Press.
Dry Creek Baptist Camp manager Todd Burnaman and others residing nearby have reported that they heard a loud noise shortly before the fire is believe to have started, and Rodrigue said that deputies are communicating with people who live and travel through the area frequently regarding any activity they observed around the time of the fire.
Anyone with information they believe could be helpful is encouraged to call the state Fire Marshal’s tipline at 1-844-954-1221 or submit a tip online at www.lasfm.org.
As the smoke cleared Wednesday evening, community members traveled to the scene to see with their own eyes the history lost in a moment.
“I have no words that can accurately describe my emotions right now,” resident Kay Fox stated as she photographed the site.
Fox’s father, Julian Campbell, attended school within the building’s halls between 1947 and 1959. She herself attended Leadership Courses at the building with the SWLA Chamber of Commerce in 1996.
“My father recently passed away and as I drove by, I couldn’t help but see the old school bell. To know my dad once heard it ring. To play outside with his classmates. This is tough for me to see,” Fox stated in a heartfelt post to social media.
In addition to the school building, the fire also damaged the exterior of nearby buildings including the patronage of the Dry Creek Bible Church located next door.
Officials said no injuries from the fire had been reported.