MECCA, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – The Mecca Schoolhouse has a chance of being restored after a devastating fire.

The iconic landmark caught fire in the early morning hours of November 10. The roof collapsed, and fire officials originally said they thought the building would be a total loss.

“This building, I mean there’s not many of these left and that’s the biggest draw of the whole thing. That is what the center of Mecca is, is this school building,” Scott Simpson, Secretary of the Alliance Representing A Building Savior (ARABS), said.

Simpson explained ARABS is a non-profit organization that oversees what happens in the schoolhouse.

The building was built in the 1900s and has served a purpose long past serving students. It has held AA meetings, reading groups for kids, and more.

After being told initially the building may be a total loss, a further evaluation showed that may not be the case.

“Everything was contained to the top floor because heat rises to the third floor, and the fire started in the attic. They said heat rises so there was no heat damage to the below areas, the only thing was smoke and water damage on the lower two levels of the building,” Simpson said.

Simpson said they immediately contacted Indiana Landmarks to get an emergency grant for an engineer to come out and assess the building.

“I was able to get up there to the Mecca school late that afternoon. I had already made contact with a couple of structural engineers asking about their willingness and availability to do an emergency assessment. Any time a building suffers a devastating fire like this, one of the first questions is, can it be saved? And so that emergency structural assessment is intended to kind of answer that question,” Tommy Kleckner, Director of the Western Regional Office for Indiana Landmarks, said.

Indiana Landmarks granted the schoolhouse $3,000 for an engineer to come out and make the assessment.

The building ended up being in better condition than anyone thought, leaving a piece of hope coming out of a devastating situation.

“Anyone who saw those early morning photos, flames against the dark night, it’s kind of incredible and devastating. I didn’t expect to find the building in as good of condition as it was,” Kleckner said.

Simpson said they previously had a community clean-up day back in November. They were able to remove important items from the school and place them in storage.

He said with the Parke County community and beyond behind them, he is hopeful the schoolhouse will one day be able to stand tall again.

“Our goal as the town is to get this building restored because we want to get it back for what it was used. It was a community building, we had a lot of things going on here,” Simpson said.

Simpson said they are still waiting on the report from the engineer to get a better idea of the extent of the damage and how much things could cost.

He said he hopes to hold another community clean-up day in the future and will continue to apply for grants to help with the restoration process.