FORT MILL — George Ford was taking his morning walk last Wednesday when he stumbled upon the beginning stages of the demolition of the old Fort Mill High School on Banks Street, where he graduated in 1959.
Ford didn’t know this was the day the demolition crew was scheduled to arrive.
First opened in 1952, the building – the third Fort Mill High School – later became Fort Mill Middle School and was used for district operations and community programs, including the Fort Mill Care Center. After deciding last year to close the facilities to save the annual $225,000 the district payed for utilities other costs to maintain the buildings, officials later announced plans to sell the property.
A deal with home builder Standard Pacific, which signed a letter of intent to buy the 6.38-acre property for $600,000, fell through in November and the school district went ahead with asbestos abatement and other preparations for demolition.
In his time at the school, Ford was active in sports, playing on the baseball, basketball and football teams. His perception of the school changed as he spent more time there.
“I didn’t like it when I first got here,” Ford said. “After I discovered girls, things were different. I loved this school.”
Ford has been a Fort Mill resident since his parents moved to the area when he was around 2 years old and seeing the demolition of his former school made him think back fondly on the area where he has spent most of his life.
“If you want a good, small, Southern town, Fort Mill is the place,” Ford said.
Ford’s family shares his love for Fort Mill and one of sons, Jason Ford, stayed in town and currently teaches English at the current Fort Mill High School, which opened in 1986.
Ford said it’s a shame that the building is being torn down, but he is glad that he was able to visit his former school again before its deconstruction is complete.
Prior to officially closing the buildings, the district conducted tours for former students and anyone else who wanted to walk through the old school complex. It also gave the public an opportunity to purchase bricks that will be available when demolition is complete.