City takes steps to develop old Denison High School property

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DENISON, TX -- The lot where the old Denison High School once stood is one step closer to being developed. Monday the city council voted once again to apply for a grant that would bring in a non-profit to help the community decide what to build on the property that is invaluable to so many residents.

It is an empty field now, but just seven years ago a nearly century old building, known as the old Denison High School, stood in the 700 block of Main Street. Ron Kingston says he was a student there.

"It was a nice place. It was really sad to see it get down to where it did," Kingston said.

In 2007 the building was torn down after a lot of debate. A number of preservation groups tried to save the old school, but their efforts were in vain.

"Bunch was for it and a bunch were against it. I myself was for it, I mean it was getting to the point where it was dangerous because kids would go in there and play around," Kingston said.

"There were a lot of bitter feelings. A lot of bitter feelings there at the end whenever they started tearing it down," Watson said.

Watson's Drive In sits right next to where the old high school used to stand. Owner Brandon Watson says the building's demolition left a void that has not been filled.

"I wish that they would put something in there that we could all use for everyday life," Watson said.

Main Street Director Donna Dow says over the years the city has tried to fill the space, but none of their plans panned out.

"They talked about a library and a museum type structure, but the timing didn't fit on that and so they weren't able to make that happen," Dow said.

Now, the city is trying once again to make something happen and fill the historic lot. Monday night the council agreed to apply for a non-monetary grant that would allow a nationwide nonprofit to come in and evaluate the options for the land.

"The Citizens Institute for Rural Design is going to give out, last time they gave out four nationwide, and so we're asking for them to provide a process for us and it would be a community, kind of a community participation type process to help us decide what happens with this lot," Dow said.

Dow says the city was a finalist for the grant last year and feels like they have a good chance at winning this time around.