‘Demo Day’ at old MHS gymnasium

Restoration project moves forward with planned Saturday event

Bill Spinks
Midlothian Mirror
The old Midlothian High School gymnasium sits empty today, but will soon spring back to life through a revitalization project. The Midlothian City Council has authorized the Midlothian Community Development Corporation to provide $500,000 to refurbish the gym.

The Midlothian Historic Gymnasium Project has scheduled a “Demo Day” for certain areas inside the former Midlothian High School gym as it begins work on restoring the facility.

The event will begin at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 16, and will last until 6 p.m. Work clothes are recommended, and jeans and closed-toe shoes are required. Work gloves and safety glasses are suggested as well. Participants will be required to sign a release before entering the building for work.

The event is free, but pre-registration is required. A link to the Eventbrite registration site is available on the Midlothian Historic Gymnasium Project page on Facebook.

The gym, which is located at 700 West Avenue H, served as the basketball home of the Midlothian Panthers until 2003, when new facilities were built and the old gym was shuttered.

The Midlothian Historic Gymnasium Project is a 501c3 non-profit organization that envisions restoring the old gym to its former glory for use in youth and adult sports, special events and group meetings.

In 2018, the Midlothian Historic Gymnasium Project received a limited purchase option from Midlothian ISD in order to make way for restoring the facility to be used for community activities. The facility is of value to the community not only because of its unique architecture and history, but also because it can add to the city’s limited inventory of affordable meeting and recreational space.

Last December, the Midlothian City Council approved a grant from the Midlothian Community Development Corporation to go toward restoring the old gym.

Built from salvaged lumber from post-war military buildings in 1950, the “Old Gym” sits adjacent to the original J.R. Irvin Elementary School on Avenue H. The gym is distinguished by its arched lamella roof style and high-gloss hardwood floor. The non-profit Midlothian Historic Gymnasium Project formed with the intent to return the facility to service for the benefit of the community.

Repair needs have been assessed and the cost of restoring the facility to occupancy is estimated at approximately $325,000. 

The Historic Midlothian Gymnasium Project board of directors has outlined a simple plan for the initial layout and low-cost use of the facility, which includes the following:

· Restore large multipurpose gymnasium space for use by youth and adult basketball and volleyball leagues and assembly for larger gatherings

· Construct several meeting rooms to accommodate groups of between 5 and 30 people.

· Construct an office for onsite manager to oversee rental and use of facility.

· Restore kitchen to allow some meal preparation and serving.