Powering Down: Wyman School ‘Power Plant’ Demolished

The Wyman School building, located at 108 Dunbar Ave., has sat vacant and deteriorating for nearly 30 years under the possession of numerous private owners. According to documents filed with the National Register of Historic Places, Wyman school which opened in 1912, “was the first building in Excelsior Springs designed specifically to meet the educational needs of secondary students.”  The school’s auditorium, gymnasium, and science laboratories were a first for the community and enabled the school district to offer courses that prepared students for college and careers at the time. 

Over the years the school was converted to an Elementary before finally being sold to a local businessman. Classes at Wyman ceased in the mid-1990s and a community theater group briefly used the school auditorium before it was totally abandoned. Several years ago, the Wyman School property was purchased by the City of Excelsior Springs in order to curb the rampant vandalism that was occurring at the location and to try and help find suitable developers with a plan for the historically significant structure. 

An image of Wyman school with the power plant smokestack visible on the left of the frame (photo April Graham).

On Tuesday, July 5th, Dehn Demolition demolished the Wyman School “Power Plant” located on the south end of the Wyman School. Built in 1913 the power plant provided heat to the school with a coal-burning furnace. Excelsior Springs residents would most likely remember the power plant’s iconic towering brick chimney that stretched far into the sky. The roof of the power plant had already partially collapsed by 2008 when documents were filed with the National Historic Register. In 2021 the City received a grant to perform a Phase 1 Environmental Study for both the Power Plant and the School where the full extent of the deterioration was discovered. 

A video uploaded to the Excelsior Citizen Facebook Group shows the demolition of the smoke stack (video Fred Dehn uploaded by Iva Dehn).

At this time, only the Power Plant is being torn down. In an email to the Excelsior Citizen, Economic Development Director, Melinda Mehaffy stated, “the City elected to demolish the power plant because the collapse of the roof has caused the loss of key structural support for the building, and as a safety precaution we are taking these measures for those living in the surrounding neighborhood.” Mehaffy added that the City is continuing to work with several interested parties who are considering plans for the redevelopment of the Wyman School. “We look forward to the day when we can see a redevelopment project for this important community asset,” she stated. 

The City has received a number of grants this year from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to complete Phase 1 Environmental Studies on additional neglected properties. These properties include 111 Ash (Isley School), 328 E Broadway (The Colonial Hotel), 610 Roosevelt, 508 Summit, 703 Summit, and 410 Superior (the old hospital). Buildings on three of the sites, 508 Summit, 703 Summit, and 610 Roosevelt have already been demolished and the property is cleared of debris for future redevelopment of the sites. Mehaffy said, these studies are key to providing the information needed to assist in the redevelopment of the properties and will hopefully lead to opportunities for community growth.

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