WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — A more than century-old building in downtown Wichita Falls that appeared headed for the wrecking ball and a future as a parking lot, is now being restored to its original look.
Imagine being able to take a sneak peek into the past. Well now is your chance if you’re visiting downtown Wichita Falls.
“We are in front of 713 Indiana Avenue and it just got done with demolition work that was much needed for this property,” Executive Director for Downton WF Development, Jana Schmader said.
The building in its later years looked nothing as it did when it was Slipperland back in the early 1920s. Its original front was hidden with white panels, around the 60s, and it sat vacant for decades.
Now the layers have been peeled away to reveal what it once was. Owner Will Kelty said he initially had different plans to level it for a parking lot for apartment tenants.
“At the time there was some HUD money available and we were going to use that money to tear it down and put in a parking lot but the plans changed,” Kelty said.
Kelty said once they began tearing off the facade, they were blown away with what they discovered underneath.
“I took some pictures and I sent them to the city and I said, ‘hey it’s like Christmas’ because the front of the building was being unwrapped,” Kelty said.
“When you go into these projects and you remove these panels you don’t know what’s underneath, you don’t know the structural integrity and some of those characteristics and the architecture if they’re still there so, as they started to remove panels and we saw whats here today we both got very very excited and hopefully we’re going to be able to completely restore that facade,” Schmader said.
Schmader said its important to preserve as much of the history of downtown that they can.
“It’s hugely important to us that we don’t continue to lose these buildings and lose that history. That’s what makes downtown so unique in the history of these buildings and that’s what makes downtown so great is people moving in and saving structures and building the downtown that everyone loves,” Schmader said.
And as far as future plans for the building?
“I have a very definite plan and I cant quite share that yet,” Kelty said.
Until then, when visiting downtown in the coming weeks, keep a watch on 713 Indiana to see the next page of its history unfolding.
Kelty said the next step is to have a structural engineer come and assess the building to find out what he will be able to save or what will need to be replaced.