Fort Worth officials debate tearing down old Ku Klux Klan building

A Fort Worth Commission's vote will decide whether a building that was used by the Ku Klux Klan will be saved or torn down.

The owner wants it demolished. But some say the history of the building is worth preserving.

The dilapidated red brick auditorium at 1012 North Main was the home of secret KKK meetings back in 1924 that went on for seven years.

There have been other uses over the years. It has a connection to Fort Worth's famed Leonard Brothers Department Store.

"The Leonard Brothers, Obie and Marvin, who ran a huge department store bought it to use for storage. Just as storage,” said Richard Selcer, an author and historian.

It was also a factory for the Ellis Pecan Company, to which retired columnist Bob Ray Sanders has a personal connection.

"My family owned land along the Trinity River that included pecan groves,” Sanders said. “Each fall, we picked up pecans. And we made at least one trip, sometimes two or three, to Ellis Pecan's Shop.”

Sanders, like Selcer and some committed to saving the building, believe a proposed plan to transform it into a performing arts venue is a worthwhile idea.

“You take something that started out with a huge negative and turn it into something that has a huge positive,” Sanders said.

They are up against the building’s owner who is trying to demolish it for something modern and lucrative.

"I can't tell a developer what he ought to do with his property,” Sanders said. “But as a rule, all these buildings you see around downtown right now… somebody saved those buildings.”

"I do step on bus tours, and I can drive past here all day and say Klan Hall used to stand there. And they'll look out the window and go, ‘There's nothing there. It’s a condo or shopping center,'” Selcer said. “But to point to the building and be able to stop and get out and talk about it, that's your historic moment.”