Powell, WY


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Demolition summer

A beloved building disappeared from Powell in the summer of 2010 when the old Powell High School gymnasium was demolished.

Within a few months, two more school buildings were demolished as Powell schools adjusted to an evolving state school funding system and changes the needs of education. Later in the summer, both the old auditorium/natatorium and Westside Elementary School followed the gym into history.



For the gym, which opened in 1949, the demolition came nearly two years later than it had originally been scheduled. The building was expendable after the new high school was completed in 2008, but the school board voted to mothball the building at the request of community members who hoped to find a way to save the building as a community recreation center.

That effort never gained much traction, and was ultimately unsuccessful due to several factors. Funding for needed upgrades was uncertain and neither the city of Powell nor any other entity stepped forward to take responsibility owning and operating the building. In addition, Park County School District No. 1 and the Wyoming School Facilities Commission deemed the site the best location for planned construction at the middle school, and the district was under pressure to officially designate the site so design could begin.

As a result, the school board voted in late 2008 to proceed with the demolition. After asbestos abatement and other preparations within the building, demolition of the gym began the day after the 2009-’10 track season ended.

The new high school also made the old auditorium unnecessary and changes in school funding made it impossible for the school district to maintain the old swimming pool. In addition, the pool was badly in need of expensive updating and the building as a whole did not meet current construction codes.

Demolition was delayed, however, until the new Powell Aquatic Center, approved by the voters in 2006, was available last spring. In addition, Powell Middle School was still utilizing rooms in the auditorium area of the building through last school year. Demolition of the pool and natatorium began in mid-August.

Westside school, which was constructed in the 1970s, was demolished to make room for a new school on the same site. The building’s age, its size and its design were all factors in the need to replace it. 

Demolition of the building began in late July, and construction of the new building began as soon as the old one was removed.

Awaiting the same fate is the old Powell High School building, although some parts of the building will remain for use by the district. Demolition cannot begin, however, until a middle school project provides a lunch room to replace the one in the old high school. Planning for that project is under way.

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