Roof collapses at James Dean’s Indiana high school

FAIRMOUNT, Ind. (AP) — A large portion of the Indiana high school where James Dean was first exposed to acting has caved in, dealing what local officials say could be a final blow to efforts to preserve the building.

Fairmount Police Chief Roger Reneau said the roof of the structure collapsed Thursday. It’s the second collapse since July 3, when a smaller section of the building caved in.

The school about 50 miles east of Indianapolis closed in 1986 and is owned by the Madison Grant Youth Basketball League. Dean fans and local officials have tried over the years to save the three-story red brick-and-limestone building, but David Loehr, curator of the James Dean Gallery a few blocks from the school, said proposals never panned out.

“There was a lot of interest, but the money didn’t come with it,” he told The Associated Press in July.

Reneau told The Indianapolis Star (http://indy.st/1a69X6X ) the owners are considering razing the site, which has been barricaded to prevent people from trying to grab bricks as souvenirs.

“The walls are falling. We had some people doing that last night so we went ahead and barricaded it,” he said.

Loehr said the stage where Dean participated in high school plays was removed years ago by the Fairmount Lions Club, which is working to raise money to restore it.

Dean graduated from Fairmount High in 1949 before leaving to pursue his acting career. He had iconic roles in “Rebel Without a Cause,” ”Giant” and “East of Eden” before dying in a California car crash in 1955. He was 24.

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Information from: The Indianapolis Star, http://www.indystar.com

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