WICHITA FALLS, TX (RNN Texoma) - Many of the new businesses that now call downtown home are in old buildings tied to the earliest parts of the city’s history.
That is why one local architect has made it is mission to keep the past part of the city's future.
Glass, brick, wood, metal and plaster are the materials developer John Dickinson is using to return one of Wichita Falls historic buildings back to its original form.
“This is one of probably three or four of the first buildings built downtown, and this is what was here when the city started,” Dickinson recalled.
The building on 7th street is said to have been built in 1882. It is just one of many located in Wichita Falls historic Depot Square district that have been restored in recent years.
John is at the heart of the movement to re-purpose them. It is a passion that started decades ago when he brought back to life the building where coffee and wine company Hook and Ladder Co. now stands. It neighbors the building he is currently working on.
He also had a hand in remodeling the Holt Apartments building and Iron Horse Pub, which he now owns and operates.
So why does he do it? He said, “Everything was built by hand. It's not manufactured pieces that are set in place. It takes craftsmen, and I appreciate that. I have a passion for it because I've always been interested in it.”
He is not the only one that enjoys seeing century old buildings being given new purpose.
County Commissioner Mark Beauchamp is a Wichita Falls history buff and says he is pleased to see people finding reasons to keep them around. “We're all too quick to pull the trigger and tear buildings down and replace them,” He said.
Beauchamp feels bringing back the old charm of the city appeals to new visitors.
He added, “Just this afternoon, I was walking through Downtown with a contractor from another city. She told me that she had been down in the eastern part of Downtown and saw all the new development. She, being a younger person, was very excited and said, ‘You have a really thriving, moving Downtown’.”
Restoring Wichita Falls oldest buildings also helps keep the history of how the city got its start alive for generations to come.
Dickinson said, “This is their heritage. This is something that if we don’t do this, the buildings are going to go away, and they’ll never come back. So, at some point if people are interested, and they want their kid to be interested, they bring them Downtown and they can show them these buildings.”