Troy starts demolition work on historic building

Posted by Cody Holyoke - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - More changes are coming to Montgomery's downtown area.   Troy University Montgomery is making more room for its student population.

In this case, it means destroying an historic building on its campus.  Demolition teams are already on Montgomery Street, dismantling the Shepherd Building.

Built in the late 1920s, the structure boasts a rich past.  Nowadays, with rotting wood and boarded windows, it's a shadow of its former self.

Administrators gave the go-ahead to tear the building down, spending some $450,000 to make way for green space and a parking lot on campus.

"We're going to make it safer. That's the most important thing. The building right now is unsafe for people to walk by as well as people to be in it," said Ray White, Troy Montgomery's vice-chancellor.

The building, which was donated to Troy in 2002, wasn't always slated for demolition.

The university discussed bringing it back to life, citing in a report that "the building is on the National Historic Register and deserves to be renovated to its original, external look."

Still, administrators say it just couldn't be done.

"Essentially, it would cost us about $8 million to renovate the building, and it's just not economically feasible because the building is not laid out properly for a classroom," White said.

The project is just one of Troy Montgomery's plans for the future.  Already, the school is in the process of buying buildings nearby, including the old Fitts-Hill Hospital.

"Improve green space. That's the big plan for us: improve lighting and security. And hopefully one day, we'll build some more academic buildings," White said.

Historians are reluctant to watch landmarks fade away, but they acknowledge the need for development.

"I understand that Troy is concerned about their growth, and they've done some fine things for downtown," explained city historian Mary Ann Neeley.

Students--still eager for parking spots--feel the same way.

"Maybe find a different way to give us parking, but if they have to do what they have to do to conserve money, I understand," said senior Erin Blanton.

Administrators are also hoping to bring housing for international students to vacant space in the nearby Bell Building. 

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