MUSTANG — Mustang High School alumnus Don Bennett spent many winter nights playing basketball in the school's old gymnasium.
The gym was built in 1945 and was home for decades to Mustang basketball games and dances. Bennett graduated in 1955.
“There are so many fond memories that came out of there,” Bennett said. “I graduated in that building, and we had carnivals there, even a funeral. When you look back on your school days, a lot of what you remember happened in that gym.”
A new facility with gymnasium was built in the late 1960s. Since then, the old gym has been used for storage and by the high school's ROTC program.
At a recent school board meeting, Jeff Woodard, director of bonds and construction, told the board it would cost $40,000 to tear it down and about $10,000 to paint it.
Officials are still determining how much it would cost to renovate the gym, but it likely would be much more than the cost of painting it, Mustang Public Schools spokeswoman Mary Lever said.
“It's the oldest building on our campus,” Lever said. “It needs many things to get it to the point where it could be used by students. It needs a new floor, and plumbing. The wiring is all original from the time it was constructed. The roof also leaks. There are a lot of problems with it.”
Despite those problems, Lever said, the building is structurally sound and safe for students. The board is expected to make a decision on its future perhaps as early as next month. She said the administration is sensitive to those who have an attachment to it.
“We recognize the importance of it,” she said. “We have to balance that against what it will cost to maintain or get it to the point where it needs to be to remain useful.”
Bennett understands those concerns. Ideally, he'd like to see the gym remain where it is if the costs aren't unreasonable. He drives by it often, and it reminds him of the way Mustang was when he grew up.
“It was a more rural community,” he said. “We had one grocery store and two service stations. It was small enough that if you said something about someone, you better watch out, because they'd find out about it.”
Still, he understands schools don't have an endless supply of money.
“I sure would hate to lose it, but I think I'd understand,” he said. “But my hope is that maybe someone can find a solution so that old gym will be around a little while longer. It's a piece of our history.”