Gone but not forgotten
Destrehan High School burned down in 1977 but a 50 year reunion brings back great memories
By Marilyn Richoux -
Mar 30, 2006
|The old Destrehan High School.
Destrehan High School has a rich and fascinating history. Official School Board minutes of July 12, 1923 say that 3 1/2 acres of land donated by Mexican Petroleum Corporation [first major industry in St. Charles Parish] went to build the first high school on the east bank.
At the August 7, 1923 meeting, President F. Keller, was formally authorized to accept the donation of said property on behalf of the School Board and the Superintendent was authorized to advertise for bids for the construction of the two high schools [DHS and HHS] in the Herald and the Journal of Commerce.
At the subsequent meeting on September 4th, the bid of Messers. Haase and Barbay for the erection of the two high schools for the sum of $126,700.00 was accepted and approved. Architect, William R. Burke, was present, furnishing advice and information.
At its October 2, 1923 meeting, the Board resolved and ordained, "That we, the St. Charles Parish School Board, tender a rising vote of thanks to the Mexican Petroleum Corporation for its munificent gift of lot of ground for the erection thereon of the Destrehan High School."
"Be it further resolved that this Board sincerely thank Mr. H. T. Hulin, local Superintendent of the above named Corporation, for his untiring efforts and help in making our school tax a success and the above gift a reality."
The minutes of May 6, 1924 meeting include, "The hour of eleven o'clock having arrived, the President instructed the Secretary to open and read all bids presented the Board for the construction of two principals' homes and two teacherages." (DHS and HHS)
Construction of the original high school on the east bank, named after plantation owner, Nicholas Noel D'Estrehan, began on September 24, 1923.
One year later, the original Destrehan High School officially opened on September 15, 1924, two days after completion of construction, with 234 students in grades one through eleven, including sixty-nine in the high school.
The 1960's brought integration and all students were now able to attend DHS. There was a demand for more classrooms due to increased enrollment. The 1970's marked a transitional period. The Class of 1975 was the last to graduate at Old DHS after fifty-two graduating classes had passed through its halls.
In 1977, multiple fires destroyed the beautiful, historic structure. Many significant artifacts and precious artwork were tragically lost. Harry Hurst Middle School now occupies the rear of site.
The new Destrehan High School is located in the heart of Ormond Subdivision in Destrehan near the historic River Road and, according to current standards for school performance, is one of the best high schools in the state of Louisiana.
In 2005, DHS received a Gold Achievement Award from the National High Schools That Work Organization (one of nine recipients in the nation) and was also recognized as a School of Academic Excellence.
Through the years, many other members of the petro-chemical and business communities have formed partnerships with schools and have provided significant financial and technical assistance. These partnerships have proved invaluable in enhancing and furthering education.
The St. Charles Historical Foundation, St. Charles Parish School Board and St. Charles Parish Council's Beautification and Revitalization Task Force have partnered to restore the original landscaping of the "Front Yard" of Old DHS. The two mottos etched on front of original building, "Survival Value Is Created On Foundation of Service" and "He Profits Most Who Serves Best" will be incorporated.
A mural of the school is currently being painted on the exterior wall of the cafeteria facing River Road. The restored area will serve as a memorial park to a revered institution of learning and tradition. The upcoming reunion will provide an opportunity to visit with former classmates and reminisce about Old DHS.