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Endangered Species


White Rock Lake Weekly

February 25 – March 3, 2011

Letters to the Editor

Dear White Rock Lake Weekly:


Historic schools can often be the most prominent building in a community after the parish church. The shared experience they represent, sometimes stretching across many generations, can be a powerful source of community identity and cohesion.   Endangered buildings matter, which is why people across the country are showing their support for historic treasures we can't afford to lose.

In the year 1909, a great school was built in historic East Dallas and was named after a jurist and former governor of Texas (1878), Oran Milo Roberts (1815-1889). The school is a historical treasure that has captivated students, old and young with its impressive stairs leading up to the main entrance, beautiful high ceilings, large windows, and solid masonry and concrete construction typical of that time.  As well as the beautiful architecture, there is always valuable local history associated with historic schools. 

Are our historical schools becoming an endangered species?   Schools like O.M. Roberts have been targeted for demolition even after spending millions of dollars in renovations.   Because of the district's need to respond to declining neighborhood enrollments in the O.M. Roberts area, some members [of the school board] believe that to build a new school, it is necessary to close an older school in an area of declining enrollment.  Diminishing funds force the school board to decide against setting aside money to renovate older buildings.  As you can imagine, maintenance is often deferred on older and historic buildings, which further contributes to the bias that old buildings are not good learning environments or that new is always better.

But, with imagination, most of these fine buildings can continue as schools, and can also be put to a wide range of uses.  The Jubilee Park Community members are urging the school board to understand the value the history of their schools and neighborhoods before making decisions to demolish them.

Historic buildings help improve people’s knowledge about the city’s history.  For example, take the Presidential White House it is 219 years old and recognized all over the world as a national landmark.  O.M. Roberts Elementary has survived the sands of time and has made a big impression on its graduating students, many of whom have become great leaders.  First Lady Laura Bush was a distinguished guest at the school and the teachers take pride in the history within the walls of O.M. Roberts as well as the knowledge that they are a part of what the exemplary school has to offer.  But, if DISD continues with its plan, after 104 years of service to its students and community, O.M. Roberts and some area homes will become a memory in the year 2013.

Unquestionably, historical buildings are very essential for public education and also bring financial savings, and create less impact on people’s lives. Taking into account these factors, we may come to the conclusion that it is more sagacious to preserve, adore and respect our historical buildings.

Please help preserve our history by saving O.M. Roberts Elementary and some area homes in the Jubilee Park Community from the impending demolition. There is an alternate solution. Learn more at


Norma Hernandez

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