September 18, 2007
Preservation: It isn't just for Houston

Bad preservation news, I'm sad to say, is everywhere:

The town of Denison is about to raze one of the grandest old buildings in North Texas reportedly to clear the way for a Walgreens. It doesn't take a history geek or an architecture expert to appreciate the old Denison High School building, which dates to 1913.

You can read a history of the building and see pictures of it here.

Denison-population 22,000-sits north of the Metroplex and neighbors Sherman, near the Oklahoma border. The old high school building on main street is a beautiful relic, replete with a white clock tower, towering chimneys, rounded archways, and a detailed amphitheater. Though abandoned for more than 15 years, the building remains structurally sound and easily could be refurbished.

And in fact, preservationists raised roughly $2.2 million in donations to fix up the place. The Texas Historical Commission spent the past year meeting with and writing letters to urge Denison officials to save the unique structure, says Brad Patterson in the Historical Commission's architecture division.

None of it dissuaded city leaders, even though the building is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. Despite their dogged fight, local residents and historical preservationists from around the state and country appear to have lost their battle.

Last Wednesday, a district judge denied the preservationists a temporary restraining order, and demolition began on the high school that afternoon. As of [Monday] morning, roughly 60 percent of the structure had been destroyed.

Now see, this sort of thing would never have happened in Houston. We'd totally have built a CVS in its place, not a Walgreen's.

Nothing you can do about this but work harder to save the next building that needs it. And keep the faith that it really does matter. You hope more people will come to realize that while there still are buildings worth saving.

UPDATE: It won't be a Walgreen's. For what it's worth.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 18, 2007 to The great state of Texas