The first school in Dunwoody built in the late 1800s was a one-room wood building. The community built another school in the 1920s, a wood building, painted white. In the 1930s, a brick school was built, and with the 1960s came additions to the old school. Students and neighbors of Dunwoody Elementary School remember when the old school was destroyed by fire in 1966.
Steve Griffeth recalls coming home from a Braves game with his brother and parents to find fire trucks in front of his school. The older portion of Dunwoody Elementary School, which sat where the Dunwoody Library is today, was on fire. Griffeth grew up nearby on Chamblee Dunwoody Road and attended Dunwoody Elementary from the fall of 1964 until spring 1972.
After the fire destroyed the older part of the school, Griffeth remembers that fifth graders met in the library. All students had to bring their lunch from home, because the cafeteria was in the old school.
He also remembers the remains of the burned building pushed out onto the physical education field and buried. Then the children played on the field over the old building. This is where the library parking lot is today.
In “The Story of Dunwoody” by Elizabeth L. Davis and Ethel W. Spruill, Jean Eidson shared her memories of the fire, including people watching, and some crying, on the hill of the J. W. Spruill home. She recalled that the floors of the old school had been oiled for many years. Jean and Lamar Eidson were living nearby on Mount Vernon Road.
Harold Wells was the principal of Dunwoody School at the time. The former principal, Elizabeth Davis, had retired in 1962 and lived just down Chamblee Dunwoody Road. She and her husband Manget Davis had an older home they purchased in the 1930s from Calhoun Spruill.
Davis saw the fire and told the story years later. “One event, after my retirement, that truly stands out in my memory is the fire that burned down the old part of the school completely, the kitchen, the auditorium, and the original classrooms.”
One of her neighbors asked if it made her feel like crying, to which Davis responded, “No, because now we can have a totally new building from A to Z.”
Bonnie Smith Nichols attended Dunwoody School and recalls the day the old school burned. The Smith family lived in the home now known as Donaldson-Bannister Farm.
“The fire was a defining moment for Dunwoody. As soon as the news was shared, people started coming. They stood in small groups; many were in tears. The thing I remember most was the silence. The school was more than a building — it had been the center of the community as long as many could remember.”