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A Baskin building listed on the National Register of Historic Places is set to be torn down this month.

The demolition of the two-story building which was once Baskin High School will begin with the arrival of proper equipment to start demolition, said Lanny Johnson, superintendent of Franklin Parish schools.

McMurray Dirt and Demolition of Winnsboro has been contracted for the project.

Before the demolition could begin, a 10-year agreement between the Louisiana Trust for Historical Preservation (LTHP) and Franklin Parish School Board had to be completed.

In 2009, LTHP donated $31,000 to the Franklin Parish School Board for roof repair, said Rebecca Boquet, Franklin Parish School Board business manager. The School Board agreed not to demolish the building for 10 years and chipped in another $17,000 for the roof repair. On Aug.10, the 10 years were complete.

Safety hazards related to the building’s dismal condition and its close proximity to Baskin Elementary’s campus are reasons for the demolition, said Johnson in previous School Board meetings.

The 93-year-old building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1981 on merits of its architecture and place in regional and social history. Some 95,000 American properties have been placed on the National Register of Historic Places since its inception in 1966.

Now, the Baskin High School building is in dire shape after not being used on a regular basis for 15 years.

The 2009 School Board, LTHP funded roof work proved to be incomplete and led to major damage in the auditorium, and the majority of its windows are broken and bricks are missing. 

The Baskin High School building was also listed on Louisiana’s Most Endangered Historic Places List in 2019. The list is comprised by LTHP and based on the critical nature of its threat and the likelihood to bring about a positive resolution to its situation or to those of similar sites.

“Historic buildings and sites are the fingerprints of our communities and it takes creative measures to preserve and protect them for future generations,” said Brian Davis, LTHP executive director in a previous Sun interview. “Strategic partnerships, tax credits and programs like revolving funds can save buildings many people may consider too far gone.”

Davis said this is a problem not only in Baskin but throughout Louisiana.

“It has really become prevalent in the last 15 to 20 years,” Davis said. “But, there are grants out there for turning these older school buildings into housing for our vets and lower income families.”

Fifteen Louisiana buildings were added to the list this year. Other area buildings on the list include Old East Carroll Parish Courthouse in Lake Providence, Bright-Lamkin-Easterling House and Chennault Aviation Museum and Collection both in Monroe. Nominations are collected and reviewed in the first quarter of each year.

Davis recommended the Franklin Parish School Board use the building to raise funds instead of going through with demolition.

“This could be a revenue generator for the Franklin Parish School Board if they were to sell the buildings or enter into a long-term lease,” Davis said.

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