ABILENE, Texas (KRBC)-At their meeting on Tuesday, November 26, Taylor County Commissioners will discuss the possible demolition of the old Taylor County Jail which sits at 341 Pecan Street.
Officials said the county has been considering the fate of the building for decades. The jail has sat untouched for 35 years, facing a myriad of issues including becoming a de-facto shelter for people who are homeless, leading to the county to weld the back door completely shut. The building has begun to fall apart, with its roof caving in, windows shattered and grass growing on the interior’s stairwell.
The jail is currently listed as a high priority on the Abilene Register of Historic Properties, leading to its owners, Taylor County, to approach the Landmarks Commission for the City of Abilene.
Commissioner Chuck Statler and Judge Downing Bolls presented to the board on Tuesday, November 19.
“The county, we are the requestor for this demolition permit, so we’re definitely in favor of it,” said Statler.
Judge Bolls said he wants to see the building saved.
“I’d love to see something neat go in there,” said Bolls. “I’d like to see a nightclub go in there.”
But the financial ramifications are too steep for the county. And,officials refuse to simply leave the property abandoned.
“It’s a rat’s nest and it’s a bird cage,” said Bolls.”We can’t afford to do all the abatement that’s going to have to happen as far as all the stuff that’s wrong with it, so the person who comes in and does it is going to have to look at doing that.”
The board considered the financial and historic value of the building, consequently members decided not to take action. They leave the decision to Taylor County. Pebbles Lee is a member of the Landmarks Commission. She advised commissioners to host public hearings before demolishing the building.
“We encourage the commissioners, also to publicly announce that if there’s interested buyers, somewhere in our area or nationwide, if they want to come in and restore this building, that they have the opportunity to step in and show interest,” said Lee.