Denton is our stage. And the stage is constantly changing. Buildings come and buildings go. Thankfully many buildings of old Denton are still with us and add to Dentoning as we know it. Hopefully, the ones with true historic value will be preserved for future generations of Dentoning Dentonites.
One building that most of Denton drives by on a regular basis but few have probably ever been in, is the Monroe Pearson Building on East Oak St. The Monroe Pearson Building is a huge warehouse which was built in three phases, beginning in the 1890s to be used primarily as a grocery portal. At the time, the population of Denton was centered closely around the Square. There were numerous grocery stores on the Square and in the surrounding blocks. The Monroe Pearson Building supplied those early mom and pop groceries, subsequently becoming a general warehouse as the years passed.
For years, the building has been empty, except for a small fan business in the east end of it in recent years. Having sat basically fallow for many years, the building was purchased as of late, with the plan to turn it into apartments or condos. This plan changed, and now other plans are being discussed. With the “multi-modal” station (city-speak for train/bus station) close by, this is the perfect area for residential units with the commuter in mind. I’m not sure though how brisk the market is for true commuters, but it is cool that Denton is beginning to return to the central area after having migrated to the outlying, peripheral areas of Idiot’s Hill, Southridge and Hog Valley in the ’50s and 60s.
A few months ago, I had the opportunity to do some “spelunking” in the Monroe Pearson Building. It was being gutted and my friend, Steve Yount, spent many days harvesting old wood from the interior. The building has a special attraction for Steve. His father, Bill Yount, who died in 1980, worked out of the building for years. Steve used to spend much time in the building as a child, “helping” his dad. The look on Steve’s face when he first entered the building was priceless. You could see his childhood and memories of his dad sweep across his soul. There was a sudden gush of stories, followed by “Oh my god”s and “it’s still here”s…….The building was empty, yet completely full for Steve.
I was unable to help with the wood salvation due to an injury,…….good timing, huh? Steve, his wife Karen and son David though, spent many hours inside the Monroe Pearson building prying old wood from walls, floors, ceilings and anything else nailed down over the weekend. I went by several times to supervise and took the pictures you see here.
In places, it really did feel cave-like. Most of the structure seems sound, but there were areas where the floor had caved in and the ceiling shows daylight. At one point during the work, Steve heard Karen calling him to come quick. Thinking she may have stepped on a nail, fallen through the floor or had discovered an unknown room, Steve ran to her side. When he got to her side, she said “Did you write this?”. Looking up, he saw “Bill Yount” penciled onto the wall in 6 inch letters. Bill was Steve’s dad, the graffiti must have been added to the wall decades ago. Though the vandalism of the wall was probably not a good example for little Steve, big Steve was elated. The autograph was the only non-product related writing they found on any of the walls, so it was one of those strange cases of the right person being at the right place at exactly the right time. Had anyone else found it, it would be at the City dump by now, but Steve now has a part of his dad on the mantel.
Once the building is stripped of anything of value, the engineers will come in and decide what can be used and what cannot. I can’t imagine much more than the brick shell being used, but even that is better than demolition and building anew. As opposed to the Fry Street fiasco, I love the historic aspects of Denton being made an integral part of new development whenever possible. I mean that way, we don’t have to learn a bunch of new places and things with which to enjoy Dentoning. I’m all about simplicity. I’m not sure what the exact plans are for the Monroe Pearson building, but if they were me, we’d have it as a multi-use building, with ground floor retail and living space above. But hey, that’s just me. The stage of Denton continues to change, and with it, our opportunities to…………..Enjoy Denton!!