Cobden High School gym built in 1955 ruled condemned

Published: Aug. 16, 2021 at 6:31 PM CDT
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COBDEN, Ill. (KFVS) - The Cobden School District is looking at a major project in the near future.

The high school needs to replace its gym, which was built in the mid-1950s.

In fact, Cobden’s gym has been home to the Appleknockers since 1955, and now it’s in need of a major renovation.

“Found there was a 10-inch deflection in one of the walls, and also some deterioration of our supporting beams of the roof,” said Edwin Shoemate, superintendent of the Cobden School District.

He said in April 2021, one of the school’s maintenance staff was on the roof and heard an unusual noise. He said that was the beginning of the end.

Months later, the high school gym is now condemned due to structural damage.

The Cobden High School gym, built in 1955, was ruled condemned.
The Cobden High School gym, built in 1955, was ruled condemned.(KFVS)

The hard part for the school will be finding a different venue for its athletes.

Shoemate said they still want their teams to feel like they are playing at home.

“So, we are trying to make sure we provide some type of home court advantage for our kids. Junior high sports will be played in the small gym. Both girls’ basketball, boys’ basketball and volleyball. We’re looking at high school volleyball using Jonesboro Elementary gym, so some school’s districts have reached out,” Shoemate said.

Due to both locker rooms being condemned, students are not even dressing for PE.

Cobden’s boys’ basketball coach Wendell Wheeler explained how different this upcoming season will be.

“I mean, obviously, you know the stuff right off the top. You don’t have your home gym, the biggest thing is the inconvenience, and you don’t have your routine,” he said.

Wheeler said the school is looking at neutral courts for Appleknocker home games.

We asked Wheeler what his teams’ initial thoughts were when they were told the news.

“We had hoped that we’d get one more year in, but I tell ya, after I think part of it, they handled it so much better than you would think because of last year,” he said.

But time has run out. The school is in need of a new gym.

Shoemate said they have already been working with local lawmakers.

“We are on hold. We’ve gone and looked at a couple of gyms that we really liked. Our architect has come up with a couple of designs that they put together for us, but the big thing is going to be state dollars. We’ve applied for emergency funding,” he said.

Shoemate knows the Appleknockers’ legacy will continue, even in a new facility.

“So just the thought of it coming down, I know a lot of people are upset and shedding tears over that. But we are going to have a brand-new facility, where we are going to pull a lot of that history in and incorporate it in that facility,” said Shoemate.

He said it will be less expensive to build a new gym that would it be to renovate the current facility.

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