What was once an anchor in the Waldo neighborhood for 41 years is now an overgrown eyesore, and residents are glad something is finally being done.
Bingham Middle School, at 77th & Wyandotte, is about to be demolished.
"It was a great facility," former student and Waldo resident Barney Barry said, looking up at a place that holds such fond memories.
He still has pictures from his 8th grade year at Bingham, when he took voice lessons, acting, Spanish and typing.
The sprawling, more than 100,000-square-foot building is now what neighbors call a detriment.
It's been deteriorating since it closed in 2001. Windows are broken and boarded up from multiple break-ins. The exterior is rusted. Vines and wild grass are taking over the inner grounds. Peeking inside windows, graffiti is scrawled on the walls, and debris and old school supplies are scattered over the floor.
"It breaks my heart," Barry said. "I drove by and saw it, and I just stopped and gawked. I couldn't believe it."
"This is unusual for the Waldo neighborhood to kind of have this abandoned building here," Waldo Tower Homes Association member Mary Cary said.
In the past month, the Waldo Tower Homes Association, along with residents and the Kansas City Public School District, decided the site would become a green space.
Talks had been going back and forth for years about what to do with the school.
Residents rejected a proposal for a Walmart in 2013, and a Hen House before that. They were adamant about keeping the neighborhood light on traffic and didn't want any more bars or thrift stores.
"I think everybody has coalesced around the idea of it being a public park," Cary said. "It's changed the neighborhood since it's become abandoned."
Cary said a lot of suspicious activity takes place on the site.
Other neighbors agree, and they're sick of it. One said she sees people sneaking into the building all the time. She even has the site's security office phone number taped to the back of her phone.
"I think people are excited to see the school actually be torn down, not because they want to see the building torn down, but because it's such an eyesore right now, and it's not usable at all," Cary said.
That idea sits well for alumni like Barry.
"I'll always have the memories and things move on, things change," Barry said. "It served a great purpose and educated tens of thousands of kids."
Midland Wrecking is doing the demolition. It'll continue throughout the summer.
The Kansas City Public School District will continue to meet with neighbors to decide what the green space should look like. The district will maintain the upkeep.
Sarah Plake can be reached at Sarah.Plake@KSHB.com