In reading the Dec. 13, 2018 article on recommendations of the Homer Educational and Recreational Complex Task Force, some thoughts and memories came up for me. Yes, that building is about 60 years old. What many people don’t remember is that it was the first and finest building of its kind back in the 1950s. I was a freshman the year it was built. I was honored and excited to be able to start high school in that brand new building.
We were the first freshman class to attend school there. It was over the top. It had a real cafeteria, a gym with real wood floors, classrooms galore and lockers — a huge leap from when high schools were previously crammed into the even older “old school” (which no longer exists) on the same property to the east. Once the new high school opened, the older building became the junior high and middle school combo.
Of course there are way more people here now. There were only 13 seniors in my graduating class in 1962. My high school years were some of the most memorable and favorite times of my entire life. We had band, choir, drama club, PE, along with all the regular classes of sciences, reading, writing and ‘rithmetic. We had dances, prom. We had school spirit, a school newspaper, basketball games and cheerleaders, all in uniforms, a ski club, track, what else? Those were the best years and they went by all too fast.
As the article stated, to build a new building of the same size would cost a lot more than remodeling the current one. A good reason right there to keep it. It would take less money to upgrade the old building than to build a new one. So let’s use what we have. Let’s stop being a disposable society throwing out older buildings as if they were fast food containers.
There are some things you can’t measure by price and cost alone. There is valuing history and honoring the fact that this building housed and turned out some great students. It employed amazing teachers who were instrumental in lives being molded and changed for generations. I feel it is worth it to preserve old buildings in our town. I do not agree that it is an eyesore. I can think of some real eyesores in our town and that building is not one of them. So let’s not go there …
The original Heady Hotel, then Heritage Hotel, now King’s Landing has been successfully upgraded and preserved. AJ’s Steak House is another one. Then there is Cafe Cups, which has morphed from Clemens the Watchmaker to the Homer News offices, even a dance studio (at one time). Vega Pratt’s store, which was a teenager’s great candy stop back in the day, has a been a number of businesses: Hopped Up Espresso, now Portside. Aurora Gems was formerly the first and only burger joint in town that served soft ice-cream cones, and you could even get them chocolate dipped.
What high school memories those were. The most popular teenage hangout ever. Another one, Lilly Walli’s store, now the Coast Guard offices. And the building next door, first lnglima’s Grocery, then Proctor’s Grocery, then NOMAR. You get where I’m going here? Preserve old historic buildings if possible. If it takes a private enterprise or a nonprofit to carry on, so be it. I vote for my historic old high school building to remain alive.
Fay Kilcher Graham is a lifelong Homer resident.