BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX) – A historic home in Bryan was demolished Wednesday. Known as the Kemp House, it stood on the city’s north side for nearly a century.
"As it started I was filled with real sadness and despair,” said Sedrick Gilbert a Bryan resident who learned last week that the E.A. Kemp home on W. 17th was to be torn down.
"I found it to be ironic that today is Juneteenth and a piece of our history here in the Brazos Valley was being demolished,” he said.
As neighbors watched, the structure was torn apart, piece by piece.
“It's very unfortunate that we were unable to get the funds that were needed to restore the Kemp house,” said Bryan councilman Prentiss Madison.
It would have cost more than a half a million dollars to restore the historic home, according to Dale Wilson. Wilson owns the company that demolished the home.
"It's got a lot of water damage, a lot of rotted wood,” he said. "It wasn’t cost effective to restore it.”
The city says the Kemp House became a major safety concern. It was on the verge of being condemned if repairs weren’t made. E.A. Kemp's great-niece now owns the home and says the decision wasn't taken lightly.
"There was no way to try to get it back to its original state without paying an arm and a leg,” said Gatlin.
Gatlin says taking care of the home was a promise she made to her great aunt.
"I said I am going to give it all that I have to restore the house,” she said. “She said if financially, if not you are not to worry about it."
Gatlin says she still plans to keep her promise. Some bricks, a few doors, and a national register plaque are being saved to later be integrated into whatever structure is resurrected on the property.
"History never dies,” said Gatlin. “It may be knocked down for a little bit but it never dies. Especially in your heart and always in your mind."
Gatlin says they are in the early stages of deciding exactly what will end up on the property. The Kemp home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.