Community help could save Armory

Published 6:18pm Thursday, May 29, 2014

Change is never easy, and the closure of the old National Guard Armory will be no exception to the rule.

Since the Selma Lions Club purchased the armory and surrounding grounds in 1995, the landmark venue has hosted a countless number of events and been the backdrop for so many memories.

The building’s future could currently be described as in limbo.

Repairing the leaky roof would surely be expensive, and demolition would, unfortunately, have to be considered if a better option doesn’t present itself.

Sadly, like many buildings built long ago, the 54-year-old structure could be suffering from more than a failing roof. Lions Club members said Thursday they are looking into the entire structure of the building, just to be cautious, including areas that have not shown signs of weakness yet.

“The next step will be finding the exact cost of the repairs to the roof, and we are also looking into the rest of the building,” said Lions club member Chris Graham. “You have to consider this building was built back in 1960, so it’s probably right at the end of its expected life span.”

Speaking with community members and members of the Selma Lions Club Thursday, I was struck by the admiration everyone shared for the building, and the desire many expressed in extending the structures life.

“There are several Lions Club members who have such a connection with the building that it would be like leveling their own homestead if we had to knock it down,” said longtime Lions Club member Ed Greene.

Selma Charity League president Mary Susan Crovato echoed Greene sentiments, saying losing the building would be a huge personal loss for her to handle.

“If they can’t fix the roof and are forced to level the building, the loss on a personal level would be difficult for me to take,” Crovato said. “I have so many memories of going to the fair over the years and that building is such a huge part of those memories.”

Like everyone else in Selma, I hope the building can be saved. The old armory is just one example of rare architecture found throughout Selma.

A new building would serve the community, as the armory has, but it would be tough to replicate the atmosphere of the old structure.

It would be a shame if the community could not come together to ensure the survival of this treasured structure.

It will likely take time volunteered, heard-earned money along with blood, sweat and tears. But this is just one more piece of Selma that we cannot afford to lose.

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