This is the third installment in the series where we reminisce about memorable buildings of Luling yesteryear that will not be making the journey with us into the 21st century. All around the country historic building restorations are becoming catalysts to major economic renaissances in their respective communities. Luling has preserved some its historic gems over the years, but unfortunately some of them have slipped through the cracks and are now gone forever.
This particular building probably more than any other in this town stirs a whirlwind of memories for almost everyone born in this town before 1970, and was also one of the biggest skyscrapers that Luling has had. Granted it wasn’t scraping much of the sky at 3 stories, but it was tall to Luling standards. This building was one of those iconic buildings I have been referring to, and it will always be an important piece of Luling lore. My class had to honor of being the very last graduating class to ever go through there. To the right is our Senior Picture showing us on a bulldozer, in our hard hats, ready to tear it down and go take on the world. This beautiful building came down in the summer of 1985 to make way for the campus reshuffle that you still see today.
We all have stories to tell about our experiences during our high school days in this old building, and man how things have changed since it was built back in 1925. This building has seen the days when you came to school with your gun racks jammed full of rifles and shotguns. It was akin to show and tell, where you would take them all out and let everyone handle them, – both students and faculty alike. And of course when you’re at this age the sky is the limit when it comes to pranks and shenanigans. I’ve heard stories of knuckleheads scaling the roof and placing burning smudge pots stolen from construction barricades on the roof at night, stories of Ex Lax being fed to possums which were then released into the building, soccer in the halls, and uncommissioned murals and other interesting artworks on the 3rd floor. I also recall someone jumping the curb in their vehicle during a pouring rain storm and leaving deep ruts in the schoolyard lawn right up to the doorsteps, to escort a group of girls to the gym so they didn’t have to walk in the rain. Innocent stuff like that… But I wonder how many spitballs have been fired within those walls… or how many licks have been dispensed in that building to misbehavors (another word I made up) who stepped out of line? And some of these paddles had personas all their own. These things were elaborate and decorative, and they were built for maximum destruction. They had names like: “The Judge”, “Big Mac” and “The Terminator” ect. Different day and age I guess… But back then you certainly didn’t see as many disrespectful kids running around like some of these fartknockers you see today.
As picturesque as this building was on the outside, it certainly seemed to be plagued with problems on the inside. The 1st floor would flood from time to time because it was below grade, and the poor 3rd floor never really stood a chance, as it was condemned early on from its intended use as an auditorium due to a lack of fire escapes. The top floor was still used sparingly as offices, a film laboratory, and storage, but it was eventually completely condemned at some point in the late 60’s due to structural issues. Cheerleaders used it occasionally to paint the large run-through signs when it was raining outside. But other than that, it was locked down. If you were able to make it up there somehow, you did so at your own risk, knowing if you got caught that coach was going to light up your rear end with “The Painmaker”. How do I know this? That is what someone told me… wink wink.
This building definitely had its issues and it became apparent in the 1980’s that it was time to do something about it. The local business climate wasn’t ideal due to the oil glut of the early 80’s, and when it became apparent that it would be just as expensive get it up to code than to just start over with a new one, – it’s fate was sealed. The only remnants of this building are a few scattered bricks stored in the attics and closets of some of our town folk, and the large stone marquee, which was saved and restored for use in the main entrance of the new high school completed across the street in 1985. This old building was such a beautiful building, and although it didn’t survive the turn of the century due to an insurmountable list of needed upgrades, it won’t be forgotten.
“We have a strategic plan… it’s called saving old buildings like these whenever possible!” – Luling Main Street
-Derek Hall, Luling Main Street Manager