Dilapidated apartment building at 115 E. Lexington Ave. in Winchester (2022 photo by Chuck Witt)

A dilap­i­dat­ed apart­ment build­ing at 115 E. Lexington Ave. in Winchester (2022 pho­to by Chuck Witt)

There’s a build­ing locat­ed on East Lexington Avenue which has been an eye­sore ever since it was built.

My rec­ol­lec­tions of the build­ing go all the way back to the 1940s when, as a kid, I saw it under con­struc­tion.  It seemed like it took almost for­ev­er to actu­al­ly get it built and from the very begin­ning, it was total­ly out of char­ac­ter with the neighborhood.

The recent pho­to above clear­ly shows how out of char­ac­ter the build­ing is with its sur­round­ing neigh­bors — and the total lack of progress that has been made since the build­ing was pur­chased over two years ago.  One can see the poor­ly built wood­en steps and the vines grow­ing through them.  On the west side of the build­ing (not shown in this pho­to), vines are pro­lif­ic all along the side and the space between this build­ing and its next-door neigh­bor is way too small con­sid­er­ing the size of the build­ing and the poten­tial for fire hazards.

The very nice home imme­di­ate­ly west of this build­ing is more indica­tive of the type of res­i­dences that exist in the area.

Since it was con­struct­ed dur­ing the 1940s, it was obvi­ous­ly built before the city and coun­ty had adopt­ed plan­ning and zon­ing. So there was noth­ing to pre­vent it from being placed in a most inap­pro­pri­ate location.

A cou­ple of years ago, the city con­demned the build­ing and sched­uled it for demo­li­tion.  After the bids for demo­li­tion were received, but before they were accept­ed, some­one approached the city and offered to buy it.  What may have been ambi­tious and good plans for the ren­o­va­tion of the build­ing, it would have been far bet­ter had the demo­li­tion tak­en place and the site made avail­able for a home more suit­ed to the neighborhood.

It seems obvi­ous that, giv­en the choice to expend city funds to remove the build­ing or to accept a pur­chase offer, the pru­dent choice was to add funds back to the city cof­fers rather than drain them.  And it was also prob­a­bly equal­ly obvi­ous that, if plans were brought to fruition to actu­al­ly ren­o­vate the build­ing into some­thing worth­while, it would have become a tax gen­er­a­tor once again (if it ever was).

However, in the cou­ple of years since these events occurred, the build­ing has been allowed to dete­ri­o­rate fur­ther, to become more of an eye­sore and a detri­ment to the neigh­bor­hood and community.

Dilapidated building at 121 E. Lexington Ave. in Winchester, formerly home of the Clark Co. Health Dept. (2022 photo by Chuck Witt)
Dilapidated build­ing at 121 E. Lexington Ave. in Winchester, for­mer­ly home of the Clark Co. Health Dept. (2022 pho­to by Chuck Witt)

Immediately across Hopkins Alley to the east, sits the build­ing that was once the Clark County Health Department.  It has been unused for many years and may still be.  It, too, was con­struct­ed before the advent of plan­ning and zon­ing, but it is less of an intru­sion on the neigh­bor­hood because of its size.  And it once served a very valu­able ser­vice to the community.

Regardless, both of these prop­er­ties could be more aes­thet­i­cal­ly use­ful as sin­gle-fam­i­ly homes, fit­ting them in with the char­ac­ter of the neigh­bor­hood and per­haps gen­er­at­ing fur­ther renew­al in the vicinity.

Even a cur­so­ry exam­i­na­tion of the two sites on Google Earth will show that each could eas­i­ly accom­mo­date a very nice house, which would be a vast improve­ment to the area.

  • Chuck Witt

    Chuck is a retired archi­tect, a for­mer news­pa­per colum­nist, and a life­long res­i­dent of Winchester.