Central Ward Set for the Wrecking Ball

The steel ball will soon be slamming into another structure here in Denison, and even though it too was a former school, don’t look for anyone stepping up to save it.

The owner of old Central Ward, Bill Wright, said the building has served its purpose and it’s time for it to come down. The asbestos abatement started Aug. 15 and is estimated to be done in two weeks. Demolition will begin shortly after by Neighbors Construction, the same company demolishing the old Denison High School on Main Street. “It is not generally known, but I purchased Central Ward 25 years ago. The school system wasn’t paying their bills so I paid them for the school along with a little more, and I got the school. The city has never put one dime into this building. I kept that school clean and supported while the other one (old Denison High School) was falling apart. Everything that has been done to it, I paid for and it is paid off,” said Wright. “The difference with my demolition is I will be paying for mine.”

Wright said that 23 years ago he had the asbestos removed from the building and disposed of at a government installation. Since then, the standards have been raised by environmental organizations and they found that asbestos was being found in the glue that held the tiles. Now, part of the asbestos abatement is scraping the tiles to free them from asbestos.

“I bought the school with a Mr. Cole. He went to school here and then came back and was upset at the condition of the building. Together, he with the work and the brains, while I paid the bills, put it back together again. I bailed them out and took it over,” said Wright.

Through the years, vandals have stolen all of the wiring, copper and anything of value from the building. The roof is in poor shape, not being the same as the Spanish tile roof that covers the old high school. The building also does not have the distinguished architecture design like the old high school, so the interest will probably not be there to save the structure, many agree.

Wright, currently 89-years-old, said that even though he will follow through with taking down Central Ward, he would like to see the old high school survive on Main Street.

“I’m not a wealthy man, but I worked a lot of years. I wish they would look at developing my block and save the old high school. The best interest in town is to save the old high school. I have Denison’s best interest in mind when it comes to finding someone to move in here. I want to choose a good tenant. When you think, it makes sense, Morton Street is the busiest street in town and would make a good place for anyone. We would hope that three blocks away, Main Street would be inspired to flourish. The building is on the intersection of Armstrong Avenue, which used to be highway 75 and Morton, which is now FM 120,” said Wright.

Wright said a couple of months ago the city gave him a letter saying they were going to place a lien on his property because his grass needed cutting.

“I have kept the grass mowed for 23 years. There was a breakdown when we got all the rain, but it was always mowed. They said they were going to have my property condemned and they would take possession of it. I paid taxes on my property for all these years and now they want to take it,” said Wright.

Wright, a mechanical engineer, placed his business, Tem-Tex, in the building and worked up until two years ago when he was forced to retire after having a stroke. His company manufactured temperature systems for car plants.

By Ken Studer
Herald Democrat

Also see Central Ward School


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