Dora School History
The schools of Missouri have changed greatly in the past 100 years. In the late 1800's and early 1900's most schools in the Ozarks were small, one-room schools that taught lessons only during the winter months. In 1930 in Douglas County there were still 111 school districts. By 1999, there were only 3 of those original school districts left in Douglas County, and not one surviving high school building.
The first school in the area of present day Dora was a log building built on the farm of Cleda Grisham. In the early years, education was only provided through eighth grade. Many students attended school for fewer than eight years because they were expected to work on the farm full time at an early age. In the early 1900's a new school was built just a few hundred yards to the southeast of the present school site. This new school went up through grade ten. The site of this old school, marked by a small grove of pine trees, can still be seen just south of county route CC near the current school.
In the late 1930's members of the Dora school district selected the current site of Dora School. This was during the Great Depression, people were poor, and the federal government sponsored projects that would benefit communities and put some dollars in people's pockets. The federal government gave the district cut stone left over from a construction project at Hammond Mill on the North Fork River. The construction workers were paid by the Works Project Administration (WPA), a Federal Depression-era program. They finished building the new high school and elementary school in 1937.
The cut-stone building was built on the current site of Dora School. The older school building was moved to the current site of the Dora School complex and is still in use for some classes. Over the years the building, which served as both Dora High School and Elementary school, was added onto many times. In the 1950's a large gymnasium, known fondly as "the barn", was added. The cut-stone building, its additions, and the gymnasium were lost to a devastating fire on the morning of January 21, 1998. After the fire, all that was left standing of the building were the stone walls. A few surrounding buildings survived the fire, including the older school structure that had been moved to the site in the 1930's.
Following the fire, students received their education in mobile units. A new cafeteria was completed in the Spring of 1998 and the new gymnasium was completed in December of 1998. In January of 1999 construction of the new school building began with an expected completion date of December of 1999.
In 1999, the Dora School District served approximately 300 students from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Approximately 65% of the student population are residents of eastern Ozark County, with the remaining 35% coming from southeast Douglas County.
Sources: Pieces of the Past, by Bess Cropper, published
by the Dora School Parent Teacher Organization.