Demolition changes skyline

If walls could talk, Lincoln Hall’s would have been spilling their guts the last few weeks.

The skyline above Eastern New Mexico University has been altered forever as demolition of the men’s dorm is almost complete.

Passing by Thursday, two portions of the structure remained upright in a mountain of debris.

Growing up in Portales, I thought Lincoln and it’s sister Bernalillo were probably what people were talking about when they referred to skyscrapers. It’s hard to believe those buildings are 50 years old, they seemed so modern when I delivered sample newspapers in their halls every fall.

I don’t guess I ever spent a full night in Lincoln since I lived in Portales when I went to school there. I did, however, spend quite a few nights in De Baca Hall, also slated for demolition. No, I didn’t have a girlfriend living there. I was about 6 or 7 at the time and my best friend Jay Thompson’s mother was head resident there.

With the bathroom’s down the hall from your room the residents were conditioned to announce a male’s presence in the hall by hollering “Man on the floor.” I thought it was pretty darn cool that college girls thought of me as a “man.”

The springtime sunbathing rituals in the courtyard was interesting but my pre-pubescent body couldn’t figure out why. So mostly Jay and I rode our bikes across the campus sidewalks and swam at the Natatorium.

It’s hard to figure how some buildings get a second chance, the Natatorium for instance or the Yam Theatre and others return to dust. Mostly it’s a matter of money, timing and opportunity. If there’s an opportunity to snag enough money at the right time an old building can be saved.

By all accounts the Hotel Clovis had missed out on its opportunities but in its 11th hour there’s a glimmer of hope. Now an election timed for the fall holds its fiscal fate in the balance.

Is it worth saving? I couldn’t answer that question but I do know a huge slice of Clovis’ downtown history and flavor will crumble if it comes down.

I remember efforts to save the Princess Theatre in Tucumcari back in the 1980s after the roof was beginning to fall inside the building. It never gained the traction or the enthused investor that would get it reopened.

Then, overnight the historic Sands Dorsey building across the street was lost to fire.

A possible success story in the making is the remodeling of the Portales Inn, formerly the Plains Hotel, formerly the Cal Boykin Hotel. According to developers, when it’s reopened in a few months in downtown Portales it will be known as The Grand.

I love staying in historic hotels and visiting restored buildings. It gives you a window into the past that you don’t experience through pictures or a description in a book.

But these days none of us wants to leave our room and traipse down a public hallway to the bathroom. Therefore, old dorms and historic architectural treasures are destined to eventually pass from this earth.