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The housing balancing act

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Figuring out how, or even if, old houses should be restored and modernized is a growing difficulty faced by many cities and private property owners. As beautiful as a home built in 1867 may be, if it is infested with termites, has asbestos, and has pipes falling apart due to rust, destroying the old to make way for the new is sometimes the easiest decision to make.

As population growth continues to strain public facilities such as schools, there is an increasing need to efficiently decide the costs and benefits of keeping a historically significant, but damaged or useless, building. While the current economic situation has certainly brought more strain to cities, the difficult decision to restore or destroy buildings is not a new one, by all means.

In 1913, the Irving Independent School District built a brick, three-story schoolhouse in order to hold the students of Irving. It was eventually turned into an elementary school, and was torn down in 1959. A picture can be found here in the Irving archives portal.

Irving's population, just as in the rest of the U.S., grew exponentially following WWII, and it is likely that the original "Old Red" schoolhouse was destroyed because it was no longer serving it's function.

However, having an original schoolhouse today would be culturally significant- it could have been turned into a museum, or library, or served as a small private school. At the time, all it was was an old building that was no longer serving its purpose, regardless of how culturally and historically significant it could have been.

Thus begins the question: how do we measure the value of a building? By its usefulness, or it's cultural importance? How do we even begin to measure either?

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