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Indiana high school abandoned since 2008 goes up in flames

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A fire ripped through a historic abandoned high school in Indiana late Saturday night, leaving former students reacting on social media.

Gary Fire Department shared pictures of flames shooting through the old Ralph Waldo Emerson High School on Facebook. The department was assisted by firefighters from Merrillville and Munster.

“This is so sad. I am forever [an] Emersonian,” one woman wrote in response.

“Gone but your memories will forever live in our hearts. Class of 71,” another former student wrote.

The school was the first high school built in Gary, Indiana, according to Ball State University.

It was constructed in 1909, and has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1995.  

Some say the building stood vacant for far too long after closing in 2008.

“Ok time for demolition don’t let it sit there abandoned and now burnt for another 25 years,” one man wrote in response to the fire department’s post.

“They should’ve just let it melt on down… it was time,” another said. 

A fire ripped through the abandoned Ralph Waldo Emerson High School in Gary, Indiana on Dec. 9, 2023. Gary Fire Department
The building has been vacant since the school closed in 2008. Gary Fire Department

The building had seen vandalism and even crime over the years, according to reports.

A 17-year-old Chicago girl’s body was found strangled in the former high school in the 700 block of East 7th Avenue in 2015, ABC Chicago reported. 

Gary Fire Department told the TV station the fire was put out about 3:45 a.m. Sunday, and a large collapse of the building occurred. 

The school has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1995.   Gary Fire Department

Arson investigators are looking into the cause of the fire. A similar fire reportedly tore through the building months ago. No injuries were reported. 

A spokeswoman for Gary Community School Corporation says the district no longer owns Emerson. 


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