PLYMOUTH — The original Plymouth High School that later served as the town’s junior high and as Wyoming Valley West’s Main Street Elementary Center, will be demolished soon, but many historical artifacts have been given to the Plymouth Historical Society.
The school opened in 1913 and served as the borough’s first high school. It later became a junior high school when the Ward P. Davenport High School building opened in 1925. The two buildings were connected by a bridge. The Ward P. Davenport building was demolished several years ago.
Joe Mazur, president of the Wyoming Valley West School Board and a 1954 graduate of Plymouth High School, wanted to preserve parts of the building. Steve Kondrad, president of the historical society, said the organization members walked through the building and removed several items that are now on display in the group’s building on Gaylord Avenue.
“We can’t save the building, but we wanted to save some of the history of the building,” Mazur said. “Maybe then we can preserve some of the great memories of Plymouth High School for all the people who attended school there.”
Some of the items taken to the historical society include blackboards, erasers, pencil sharpeners, signs, round glass covers for the ceiling lights and coat hangers.
The biggest artifact that Mazur and Kondrad hope to preserve is the concrete facade at the top of the two-story building that reads “Plymouth High School.”
Gary Evans, a retired WVW teacher and now a school boarrd member, is chairman of buildings and grounds. He said the demolition company, A.R. Popple Construction, will do everything it can to remove the facade intact.
“It may have to be taken down in three pieces,” Evans said. “But the goal is to preserve it so it can be kept at the historical society.”
Joe Rodriguez, WVW’s business manager, made most of the arrangements for the preservation of the historical items.
In May, the board voted 8-1 to award a contract to A.R. Popple Construction Inc. in the amount of $118,000 for the demolition. As part of the demolition project, the board also awarded a contract to Prism Response in the amount of $54,748 for the removal of asbestos.
Rodriguez said the board also approved an additional $1,500 to Popple to preserve the facade.
The building should be coming down soon. The windows have been removed and the asbestos has been abated. A fence has been erected around the perimeter of the building.
Kondrad said it was important to save some of the building’s artifacts so residents and visitors can see them. Kondrad said the historical society videotaped a Memorial Day program at the elementary school in May, 2012, shortly before the school closed.
Mazur said once the building is down, bricks will be set aside for residents or former residents who went to the school or visited there to take as mementos. He said the foundation will be filled in and grass planted for now.
“I have dreams of maybe widening the street for bus traffic for the high school,” Mazur said. “Maybe we can get the state to put a traffic signal there — Wadham and West Main streets — because we have a problem getting buses in and out.”
Mazur said when he walked through the building it was like deja vu.
“Much of that building was still the same as when I went there,” Mazur said. “The layout was the same. I can still see (longtime athletic coach) John ‘Snoggy’ Mergo in the lower level study hall. There are so many good memories of that building.”
The building is located in front of the WVW High School. When the school closed after the 2011-12 school year, students were sent to State Street Elementary in Larksville.
“So many people walked those halls,” Kondrad said. “Think about how many kids attended there. Gov. Arthur James went to school here.”
Kondrad said the historical society’s motto is to “preserve, protect and project” history.
“Plymouth High School was a major part of this town’s history,” he said. “The building will soon be gone, but the memories will remain forever.”