Original Lima Senior High School
In 1951, voters went to the polls to decide the fate of a $3.5 million high school. The levy narrowly passed. Some residents requested a recount of 13 controversial precincts, but because all precincts would have had to be recounted, the judge ruled no recount.
The South Tigers and the Central Dragons were soon to become the Lima Senior Spartans. Lima Senior High School opened in 1955 featuring 63 classrooms, a gym seating 4,200, an auditorium seating 1,100 and a cafeteria seating 600. It cost $3,466,250 to construct and dedication ceremonies were held in August 1955.
Lima’s school enrollment continued to grow. In 1955 there were 14 elementary buildings and South and Central had become junior high schools. Combined with the new Lima Senior High School, total enrollment in the district was 9,275 students. Another elementary school was needed on Lima’s west side. Westwood Elementary School on Cable Road opened in 1960. It was the first new building under the Pay-As-You-Go-Plan approved by voters in 1957.
In 1962, Edison Elementary School, joined to South Junior High, was dedicated. Whittier and Irving Schools added new additions in 1963. That same year, an educational center was built on Calumet Avenue at a cost of $150,000, relocating the superintendent’s office from Central Junior High.
By 1965, the district had reached enrollment of almost 11,000 students. That school year also marked a change in leadership and Dr. Earl McGovern became the new superintendent.
Dr. McGovern was in office a short time when on February 27, 1966, Central burned. The cafeteria and 31 classrooms were destroyed. Seventy-two fire fighters battled the 1.4 million dollar blaze for seven hours. Volunteers carried school records and other salvageable goods from the building.
The blaze has been known as the fire that “changed Lima.” The district decided not to rebuild Central, but rather built two new junior high schools four years later.
New Junior High Schools
Immediately after the fire, Lima Senior went on triple sessions to accommodate all of the students. Some students attended school at 6 a.m., others at night. The Board needed to act. In November 1966, voters approved a levy to build three new schools and construct additions at four others. Faurot, Lowell, Jefferson, and Roosevelt added new additions. Whittier’s original building was demolished and the 1963 addition was connected to a new addition.
Two new junior high schools were built—Lima West Junior High School at College and Hazel Avenues in 1968, and Lima North Junior High School at O’Connor and West Streets in 1969. Each building cost about $1.3 million to construct.
Building construction started again in 1971. The state approved matching funds for a $1.4 million vocational wing at Lima Senior. Over the next 25 years, some of the school buildings saw remodeling and Lima Stadium underwent renovations including a new all weather track.