Archived Story

Hartselle High 103 years ago

Published 11:26am Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The new Hartselle High School has generated much discussion over the past two years as the community has watched and waited patiently while construction crews have labored furiously to bring the project to completion.

It now appears that the wait will soon be over.

School officials have targeted April 1 as the date when the school will be opened to students.

From a historical perspective, it should be noted that an earlier generation of Hartsellians were feeling the same excitement and high expectations when Morgan County’s first public high school – Morgan County High School – opened 103 years ago.

Citizens of the town responded quickly when a state law was adopted in 1908 providing for the establishment and funding of a high school in each county of the state. Townspeople raised $4,000 in local subscriptions in a short time, appointed a building committee, acquired five acres of property and chose the name “Morgan County High School” while the building was under construction.

The two-story brick building, which cost about $10,000 to build, was considered a state-of-art education facility at that time. It featured four classrooms on the ground floor and an auditorium with two dressing rooms and a stage upstairs. The dressing rooms doubled as classrooms for music and public speaking.

In the absence of electricity, the building was equipped with gas lights and coal heaters.

It had no indoor restrooms and a bell was used to mark the beginning and ending of class periods. The faculty consisted of a principal and two teachers when 64 students were enrolled. The first graduating class consisted of 12 seniors.

The education amenities of that era may seem few and far between compared to what we have today; however, they were put to good use and some of them will continue to play an important role in the education of seventh and eighth graders.

For example, Riddle Auditorium, the oldest building on campus, was built in 1937. The Petty center opened in the 1950s. A 17-classroom addition and new cafeteria were added in 1963-1964 and the original building was demolished in 1979, followed shortly by the changing of the school’s name to Hartselle High School.

While the school will soon change locations, its legacy will remain intact.

How can that not be when thousands of students, past and present, walked its halls, studied in its classrooms and used it as a launching pad for successful careers?

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