As far as Highland Park ISD officials are concerned, demolition of the original Hyer Elementary building is going to begin this summer, with an eye on the campus opening for the 2020 – 2021 school year.
(ABOVE: Site work is underway on the Hyer Elementary School campus. Photos by Tim Glaze)
However, an odd sort of limbo hangs in the air, as the district awaits word from the State Historical Preservation Association and Texas Board of Review on whether the building will be named to the National Register of Historic Places.
The school, which sits on land purchased in the 1930s, was nominated several months back for a historical designation; if named, it would go through several other channels before being officially declared historic in Texas. This, in turn, could prevent any demolition planned for the elementary school.
It puts the district in a bit of a holding pattern, said spokesman Jon Dahlander, adding the plan remains to proceed with the demolition.
“As far as we know, the nomination is still considered active and could be considered by the state board of review at a future meeting, but the district is moving forward with its plans to begin building a new Hyer this summer,” Dahlander said.
The district capped spending on the new Hyer at $36.3 million.
For the 2018-19 school year, Hyer students were temporarily relocated to the district’s newest elementary school on Durham Street. Bradfield Elementary students attended Hyer’s original location on Caruth while that school was rebuilt. Hyer students will remain at the new campus on Durham for the 2019-20 school year while Hyer is rebuilt.
Superintendent Tom Trigg has long opposed a nomination, saying recently that any historic announcement could delay construction by up to a year.
“[Being named to the Register] doesn’t keep the building from being demolished, but it is the first step in being named a State Antiquities Landmark, which could keep it from being demolished against the wishes of our community, which voted for new schools more than three years ago,” he said. “That was a concern to us. If we are forced to do anything different than what we have planned for Hyer, it would cause a delay for us, and most likely a lot of money.”
District-formed “legacy” committees also are concerned, as well as current and former teachers, faculty, PTA members, and students, who have only known one Hyer for several years. The goal of the legacy committees is to make sure the architects embrace the unique elements of Hyer and the other HPISD schools – or, in the case of the state, that the elements are also preserved.
The Hyer Legacy committee’s wish-list of saved elements include the building’s red brick and white trim, the courtyard, and the engraved bricks.