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A school divided

Crews demolish the northeast side of the old Powell High School building on Friday morning. Meanwhile, a separate one-story of the building is being renovated for continued use. Souvenir bricks from the old building are being given away. Crews demolish the northeast side of the old Powell High School building on Friday morning. Meanwhile, a separate one-story of the building is being renovated for continued use. Souvenir bricks from the old building are being given away. Tribune photo by Toby Bonner

Section of old PHS renovated as main structure is demolished  

More walls keep tumbling down at the old Powell High School as demolition of the three-story section progresses.

Demolition will continue for a couple more weeks. Folks can drive by to watch the progress and say goodbye to the 57-year-old building.

“But they need to drive by every day, because it will look different every day,” said Todd Wilder, coordinator of support services for the school district. He said they may close off Evarts Street in front of the building during demolition.

Walls have been crumbling and falling down easily during the demolition of the three-story section, Wilder said.

“It was ready to be torn down,” said Austin Allen, project manager with Sletten Construction in Cody. “It’s coming apart very easily.”

Meanwhile, a one-story section of the building has been separated from the main structure and is undergoing significant renovations for continued use by Park County School District No. 1.

“We’re treating it, really, as two separate projects right now,” Allen said.

As the main section is torn down, the nearby section is being renovated as part of the $2.6 million demolition/renovation project.

Renamed the Support Services Building, the remaining 26,000-square-foot section continues to house the district’s information technology (IT) department, print shop, maintenance shop and offices and warehouse.

Employees continue to work in the one-story section as renovation work progresses around them. Wilder said the IT department employees were very nervous about any dust getting into computers and equipment. Crews worked hard to minimize the dust in the area, and they tried to keep the server room pressurized to keep any dust out, he said.

The remodeled building also will feature a new classroom for youngsters in the Pre-Kindergarten Transition Program, as well as classrooms for emotionally and behaviorally disturbed students and an in-school suspension room, Wilder said.

Currently, all of those programs take place in the old Home Ec Cottage across from the middle school. The cottage was designed for home ec activities like cooking and sewing, and doesn’t have the new technology available in the district’s other buildings, Wilder said.

As district officials looked at the best way to continue providing services for students in the pre-kindergarten, emotionally and behaviorally disturbed and in-school suspension programs, they talked to the Wyoming Schools Facilities Commission about keeping more of the old high school building. The state agreed to include and fund renovated space for those programs in the Support Services Building.

“This allows the district to divest the Home Economics Cottage building,” Wilder said.

Selling the old cottage building supports the state’s effort to reduce excess square footage of school buildings, he said. Student population figures drive calculations for how much square footage school districts should have — and how much funding they receive.

The goal is to have the district’s footprint equivalent to the funding models for grants and major maintenance money through the state, he said.

The remodeled Support Services Building also will include a high-tech room for staff development and training.

Another multi-purpose learning room can be used in a variety of ways. District leaders have talked about making the space open for community meetings and to home-schooled students who want to take advantage of the advanced technology offered in the district. It also could serve as a space for tutoring.

“We’ve thought of a bunch of different uses,” Wilder said.

He said the remodeled building will be an asset to the district and the community.

While the remaining one-story section will have an entirely new look, new entrance and new purpose, it will still resemble the old high school in some ways. The checkered tiles and floor from the old hallway will remain.

“So it will be kind of reminiscent — keeping a bit of the old high school,” Wilder said.

Crews are also striving to preserve mature trees on the property.

“We’re going to do our best to save them,” Wilder said.

The three-story section’s old footprint will become green space with a new irrigation system.

The old school housed high school students until 2008, when it was replaced with the new building on East Seventh Street.

As the old building is torn down and walls easily crumble, it confirms why the new school was needed, Wilder said. In the remaining one-story section, some of the walls are unstable and need to be reinforced.

“What we’re finding as we go through here — all this old brick, the mortar that’s holding them is in bad shape, so we’re talking about strategies of how we can shore these walls up better,” Wilder said.

Some loose walls must be taken down and replaced.

Renovation work includes new electrical, plumbing, heating, air conditioning, sprinkler system and roofing.

“The existing roofing had failed, and we had leaks all over in here,” Wilder said.

As demolition of the three-story section continues, an industrial hygienist is monitoring the site daily with air sampling devices.

“They’re monitoring the air all the time to make sure we’re not putting stuff in the air that’s harmful for the environment,” Wilder said.

The renovation/demolition project is going well, Allen said. He added CTA Architects Engineers “did a great job with the design.”

Wilder commended Sletten Construction and the subcontractors working on the project.

The entire project is a few weeks ahead of schedule, with the anticipated completion date in September, he said.

In recent years, the Powell community has said goodbye to multiple school buildings, including the old PHS gymnasium, auditorium and pool, as well as the former Westside Elementary School. The old middle school will soon be torn down and replaced with a new building, and the old Southside Elementary School was sold and became home to Trinity Bible Church.

Most Powell students now attend new buildings as the old structures are demolished or sold.

“It’s hard to let these old buildings go, but we’ve replaced them with something that’s better,” Wilder said.


Share Your Old PHS Memories

Over the decades, thousands of Powell residents spent their days in the old Powell High School, both as students and educators.

The old building is full of memories and stories. We want to hear from you about what you remember about the old Powell High School.

Email your stories to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., post memories at or send them to the Tribune at P.O. Box 70, Powell, WY 82435.


Old-PHS-renovated-renderingThis rendering shows the new front entrance of the Support Services Building off of North Evarts Street. The renovated one-story section of the old Powell High School will continue to be used by Park County School District No. 1 for education and for support services. Photo courtesy CTA Architects Engineers

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