MURRAY — It was an emotional day for some homeowners on Hillside Drive this week when they had to say goodbye to old neighbors and their homes.
Twenty-two homes are being demolished to make way for a new Hillcrest Junior High near 5300 South and 100 East. Owners had to be out of their homes no later than Jan. 31.
Before her childhood home is demolished, Jane Spence did a little demolition of her own to search for something extremely valuable: her father’s baseball cards of Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb. She said her father used to put these cards — his prized possessions — on the ledge of the foundation in the basement and also put them in the ceiling a couple of times.
Now that the house is being torn down, Spence and her siblings decided to see if they could find the cards.
“My very well-educated brothers and I have been in the basement with a hammer tearing the ceiling out of the place, and sledge hammers on the fireplace, going crazy,” Spence said.
She will miss the house in which she grew up.
“I’m going to cry. Just people that were fabulous people, and kids don’t always grow up in the same place for years and years,” she said getting very emotional. “And when you grow up with the same people around you for years and years, it’s just a bond and a love that you just can’t fathom.”
She cherishes memories of good times with childhood neighbors and recalled doing the craziest things growing up.
“(We had) neighborhood water fights and neighborhood shootouts, the O-K Corral with our cap guns,” she said. “We rode horses and had rabbits. We used to make cages and take them down to the creek to catch squirrels and maybe raccoons.”
They would jump off the roof when the snow was deep enough and had a zip line hooked from the roof down to the fence. “We would get on the zip line and just had a riot going off of that,” she said with a laugh.
The decision for Spence’s father to give up his home was not easy, but she said he was able to get everyone on the street to agree with the plan. The family doesn’t see themselves as being kicked out of their home.
“It’s so in keeping with him and the life that he lived,” she said in tears, “that he would give his home so that people could go to school. The street had the same beliefs so this wonderful, wonderful street where I grew up is leaving. It’s going to be gone. But all of these people had given their homes for the children and education of Murray, we were raised to consider that a privilege.”
District officials said the existing Hillcrest Junior High is in need of major repairs and the school, built in 1911, is too old for any technology upgrades.
Construction is scheduled to begin in March and end by spring 2015.
The projected cost of the school is $34 million, which is being paid in part with a $33 million bond passed by Murray residents last June. Part of the bond money will also pay for seismic upgrades to all Murray School District schools.