By Wyatt Goolsby
HOBBS, NM - To renovate or to destroy? That's the question the Salvation Army will soon have to answer about one of the oldest buildings in Hobbs. Either way, the group will have to shell out tens of thousands of dollars. The old historic Hobbs City Hall is 80 years old, and over the years has become a big liability. Officials don't want to rip it down, but they may have to.
"It obviously has fallen into disarray and disrepair, and when we first moved here we were surprised and shocked at what we found. Debris and things left over from the thrift store," Major Martha Davey, with the Hobbs Salvation Army, explained on Friday.
It may not look that bad just driving by the historic Hobbs City Hall on East Main Street. However, if you take a look inside, the building is a big mess. It's been flagged by the national Salvation Army as one, if not the biggest liability in the western part of the country.
"The roof is falling in. You can see right straight through," Major Davey said. "The plaster has been falling in. Obviously the plaster is off the walls. So it's going to take a lot of repair in getting it back up to code and shape because it's no where near any kind of codes right now."
Major Davey told NewsWest 9 the building was used as a City Hall (for "New Hobbs") in the 1930's. Then it was donated to the Salvation Army, which used it as a chapel and offices for decades. In more recent years, a local historian and the Salvation Army have been working to get it preserved as a historic site with no luck.
"So, we've been trying to clean it out and get it to a usable space, and now we have been told that we have two options. Unless we can get it fixed up, we will have to tear it down. It's a historic building and we don't want to tear it down unless we absolutely have to," Major Davey added.
Either way, it will cost a lot of money. Major Davey said demolishing the building would cost about $50,000. However, a full renovation inside would be over $200,000. For now, the Salvation Army is waiting to hear back about a possible grant, but if that doesn't pan out, the building will likely be destroyed.
"Very much hoping," Major Davey said. "I would love to see this old building be able to stand and be a useful space again. Not only for the Salvation Army, but for the community of Hobbs as well."