Mangum High School And Elementary School

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Mangum High School, 1950s
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)

Reader Tim Dellinger wrote to contribute information about this building and the school:

Mangum was a High School serving kids in grades 1 thru 12 from the 1930's thru 1955, when Northern High School was built. Mangum then became a 1- 8 school elementary school, similar to the set up at other County schools such as Holt, Bragtown, etc. The Home Ec building was used for a variety of projects from 1955 onwards. In 1960, during a thunderstorm, lightning struck the main brick building at Mangum, catching fire to the auditorium curtains. The entire building burned in a dramatic fire, necessitating that the Home Ec building be used as a temporary cafeteria until a replacement building, called the "Cafetorium", (I love that word), was built in 1961. In your blog photo of Mangum School on from the 1950's, the building that burned down is on the left.











Home Ec Building / Mangum Elementary, 02.10.03
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)

The Home Ec building was built in the 1920's when the present Mangum School location was designated as a high school (there was another Mangum School at a different location outside Bahama, circa 1920). This building was designed to be the Home Ec building, which was an essential part of the high school curriculum back then, and was separate from the main brick buildings, last of which was completed in 1939. Eventually, there were four building on the Mangum campus---two main brick buildings, a huge wooden building where the Principal's family and out of town teachers lived called the Teacherage, and the wooden Home Ec building.

The Home Ec building comprised two very large classrooms and a back portion---you went in the front door and faced a wall----you had to go either to the left or to the right. The left classroom had cabinets and sinks for cooking classes, and the right room was laid out more like an typical classroom. There was a row of windows on the East and West sides to allow plenty of light. The back portion of the building contained another classroom that could be potentially curtained off, as well as a rest room. The back room also contained a Murphy Ironing Board that dropped down out of the wall to help the students when they were studying dressmaking and other domestic duties. The rest room had your typical 1920's era plumbing and cloudy water that tasted awful!

In the center of the building was a serving window that mandated various purposes over the years.....students could line up for a meal and it was also used in canning demonstrations to the Home Ec students.

The basement was underneath the back portion only. It has separate entrances on either side and it was first used as a home for the Mangum School custodian to live, free of charge.

There was no air conditioning, of course, and the heat source was a single wooden stove in the middle of the building, designed to (just barely) heat both rooms.

During the 1960's the Home Ec building housed the Bahama Ruritan Club. It was also used as a community cannery in the summer. The basement was used by the Scout Troop sponsored by Mt. Bethel Methodist Church. When the Bahama Ruritan built a new building around 1971, the building was empty once more, though the Scouts continued to use the basement.

I first knew the building in 1972, when the Durham County Schools used the building as their Media Processing Center. The Center was responsible for preparing, cataloguing, and documenting books, filmstrips, etc for the various County school libraries. My Mom worked there and because she did not get off until 4:00, I hung around the building after school was out waiting for her. The Center mainly used the right side of the building----the left, due to the enormous windows on the side of the building, was kept in darkness with the shades drawn to maintain a cool temperature in warmer months. I used to pretend that side of the building was a haunted house, as it still had all of the old sinks and cabinets from the Home Ec days and there were rows upon rows of book shelves to hide within. The ladies who worked there with my Mom were amused by my imaginative mind, and they freely allowed me to explore the room and play there until it was time for my Mom to get off work. Because the building was built on a slope, you could also crawl under the building...I would find all sort of items down there, old bottles and cans, silverware, cups, mason jars, you name it. My days of crawling and exploring under the building stopped suddenly----I came eye-to-eye to a snake under that building and I made a quick exit! It was probably just a black snake, no more curious about the building than I was, but I still vividly recall being scared to death and I never went back under the building again!

The Scouts moved back to Mt. Bethel in 1976. The County used the building until the Media processing Center was moved to Hillandale School (in another small white wooden building) in 1977. Northern Junior Athletic Association (NJAA) used the basement vacated by the Scouts. As for me, I started Junior High in 1975, so I began to lose contact with the building and Mangum School. The Teacherage was inexplicably torn down in the mid-1970's. Today, you can still see the old sidewalk leading to the Teacherage steps. In addition, there is the HUGE Water Oak tree which was big back in the 1970's and is one of the largest trees that I have ever seen, still standing next to where the Teacherage was located.

Ignoring the fact that the buildings had been an integral part of Mangum's campus (and as such, part of the students' lives for 80 years), DPS demolished the Home Ec building (now known as the "Cottage") and the last Main brick building down in 2009. It is sad to see that demolition and destruction seem to be the determining factors whenever DPS looks at the viability of school buildings. At Mangum, it was particular a sad loss, as Mangum's staff had managed to keep these older buildings going all these years, while similar buildings were torn down at Hillandale School and arson plagued both Bragtown and Hope Valley schools.



Wow, Gary, this is great. Do you have any more photos of Mangum School, or are you planning to do a series on it? The building on the left was the older building, it burned down in 1960 when it was struck by lightning during a storm. Durham County in its infinite wisdom tore the main building (in the center of your picture) down two years of the last of the original 1930's buildings. What a shame.

Gary, I could give you all the information you could possibly want on this building on the Mangum campus in great detail....I was so sorry to see it torn down in 2009.


Feel free to post in the comments or email it to me - I'll be happy to post whatever info you have -


I too am very interested to learn more about this building.

My grandmother, Faye Mangum Roberts, lifelong resident of Bahama, who also attended Mangum School used to tell me about going to the school the night it burned and watching it burn. She talked about how sad it was to see it burn.

I had just finished 1st grade the year Mangum burned down. I still remember having to walk out in the weather to get to the cafeteria, which was set up in the old Home Economics building. Even after the burned building was torn down, and the new addition built, which contained the "cafetorium", my 6th grade class was held in another building behind the newly rebuilt section. I believe that was called the old "agriculture" building. It contained 3 large class rooms. One of these classrooms was my 6th grade class, and the other was a 7th grade class. After that year, 7th graders were moved to Carrington Jr. High along with 8th & 9th grades.

I went to this school in the 1st and 2nd grade and also the 6th grade. In between those years, I attended Little River. This school brings back memories for me.

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