School holds memories

Published 9:21 am Wednesday, March 7, 2007

By By Lisa Tindell – news writer
When the dust settles on the north end of the W.S. Neal High School campus this week, years of elementary school memories that began in 1948 will be all that remain.
The building that once housed first through sixth grades at W.S. Neal is being demolished this week to get rid of a safety hazard and an eyesore, said Escambia County School Superintendent Billy Hines.
Hines said residents in the community surrounding the school asked if something could be done about the school because it was in poor condition.
Hines said there were many factors in making the decision to tear the building down now.
Hines said there are no plans in the works for construction on the site.
Phillip Ellis, principal at W.S. Neal High School, says he has a dream to see construction take place on the soon-to-be-vacant portion of the campus.
Ellis said he believes a new facility will someday be built on the East Brewton school campus, but doesn't know when that dream might come true.
Ellis said the disassembling of the building is a welcome sight on campus, even if a new building won't be put in the old elementary school's space.
In recent years, the W.S. Neal football team had used the building to house their weight room and workout equipment, Ellis said.
Overall, Ellis said he is glad the building is gone because the absence of the old structure will improve the look of the campus.
Although a new facility may be years down the road, some residents in the community have found themselves strolling down memory lane with the destruction of the old building.
Construction of such a building in the late 1940s was an amazement for those who lived in the community.
Though the building had been renovated and refurbished over the years, W.S. Neal Elementary enrollment had grown so that a new facility was needed. The students began attending classes in the current facility on Williamson Street in 1981, leaving the building vacant.
Ellis is pleased with the progress of the demolition and said the work should be complete within the next two weeks.
Once the final cleanup is complete, fresh soil and grass will replace the brick and mortar that once was W.S. Neal Elementary School.

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