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,”
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
“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
Central Ward School
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