On Wednesday morning, a chunk fell off of the building at the corner of Williams St. and Forest Ave.
It’s not the first time bricks have popped loose on that corner, but this time it was serious enough that the building was deemed “unsafe to occupy” by the city inspector. The next most likely stop is for the Great Bend City Council to condemn the building.
The Barton County Historical Society has campaigned to save the building in the past. Built in the 1880s, it’s still known as the “opera house,” although it’s housed many other businesses and offices over the years. The building is reportedly for sale, but repairing it will be costly.
It’s a shame when historic structures come down. Recently, a World War II hangar at the airport was scheduled for the same fate.
Isn’t it great when old buildings see new life? Think of the former Roosevelt Junior High School at Broadway and Williams St., or the Family Crisis Center at Broadway and Main. Sometimes the old can and should be replaced with something new – such as the Great Bend Activity Center, on land once occupied by Morrison Elementary School.
Whether the old opera house comes down or sees new life will depend on decisions that will probably be required in the coming weeks. Being located in the heart of downtown, the building has seldom if ever been empty.
Someone will need to step up soon, or another piece of Great Bend History may turn to dust.