The Building That Holds a Ton of Abilene’s History Is Being Destroyed
The one building that holds and has seen nearly all of Abilene's history being made, is now set to be demolished due to the fire four years ago. The building is being torn down so that they can make the Downtown area in Abilene look more uniform.
For as long as I can remember, the Abilene Reporter-News (ARN) building has been in the same location for decades. I worked at the Abilene Reporter-News for their circulation department back in the early '80s. I recall when one walked in through the covered parking garage one would see antique presses, photos, and more.
My job was to check the Reporter News' answering machine every morning and decipher who the messages were for. Whether it was for a writer who may have misspelled a name, for sales if an ad wasn't correct, or for circulation and their paper wasn't delivered.
The Abilene Reporter-News started in 1881 a few months after it opened it was destroyed by fire.
Nonetheless, the ARN has been a place of many memories and has employed thousands of people since it began in Abilene in 1881 as the first business and as the "Daily Reporter." Ironically this is the second time the Abilene Reporter-News building has been destroyed by fire. A few months after opening back in 1881 the Daily Reporter was destroyed by fire on November 1st, 2018.
Fast-forward to today, the Abilene Reporter-News building is set to be demolished, 4-years after being destroyed by fire. City of Abilene officials has entered into a contract with the non-profit organization Abilene Improvement Corporation (AIC) which will be responsible for the demolition of the building, at 101 Cypress Street.
AIC has agreed to tear down the building and then begin to reconstruct and develop the property into a project that will positively produce an economic benefit to the City of Abilene as agreed upon by both parties.
Also included in the original agreement. The City of Abilene shall contribute the sum of Four Hundred Ninety-Two Thousand and Noll 00 Dollars ($492,000) toward the Developer's demolition expense of 101 Cypress Street, to allow the Developer to redevelop the property into a project that will directly provide a positive economic benefit to the City of Abilene. The Developer shall demolish 101 Cypress Street within one year from the date of this Agreement, and will develop, or cause to be developed the property into a mixed use development that contains at least two of the following uses: (1) residential housing; (2) retail space; (3) restaurant. Source: Comptroller.Texas.Gov
Efforts to restore the historic building were short-lived, and the space was even listed for sale in 2020 before development was taken over by the Abilene Improvement Corporation. Pardon the pun, but the best news is that a lot of the historical antiques were salvaged, maybe one day there will be an ARN museum.