By Tyler Schneider
The nearly century-old “Center White House” at 8701 Holmes Rd, a former farmhouse that first served as a chicken farm before it was acquired by the Center School District in 1954, is set to be demolished once and for all following an open house farewell event scheduled from 4 to 7 p.m. on Monday, May 22.
For 57 years, beginning in 1965, this oft-modified and prominently patched property housed the Center School District Administrative Offices. Last fall, faculty members completed the process of transitioning over to the Center Academy for Success (8434 Paseo Boulevard), while the district held a pair of public sessions aimed at deciding the future of the building.
After weighing a trio of options which boiled down to repairing the house at an estimated cost of $200,000 to $400,000, repairing the house at a cheaper rate and transitioning it into a construction trades learning lab at less than $100,000, or simply demolishing it for $50,000 or less and considering the land for a future sale or future project(s).
After this period of consultation, Center Superintendent Rick Chambers announced on May 5 that the building would finally be demolished this summer.
The farewell event is free, though registration is requested as a courtesy. While the state of the property will not permit tours of the building, the gathering will include refreshments, a table with yearbooks to look through, a history of the original farmhouse, and a memorial space in which guests can record some of their favorite stories and memories. Those who register can also request a brick from the house as a keepsake.
Similarly, over at Hickman Mills, the demolition of Johnson Elementary School (10900 Marsh Ave) commenced May 1. Next on the chopping block is Symington Elementary. Both facilities were shuttered in 2019 following budget shortfalls and declining attendance numbers. The demolition costs will be covered as part of the $50 million in total bonds the district’s residents have approved in the last two years, with $20 million specifically earmarked for this cause.