© 2023 Marfa Public Radio
A 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

Lobby Hours: Monday - Friday 10 AM to Noon & 1 PM to 4 PM
For general inquiries: (432) 729-4578
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Midland’s Western United Life building to be demolished

(Mitch Borden / Marfa Public Radio)

After standing empty for some 30 years, the Western United Life building in downtown Midland is scheduled to come down. Officials with the City of Midland say the 12-story building will be demolished on Saturday, March 25.

The building has been a prominent feature of the city’s skyline since it was built in the 1940s — and is a stark reminder of the oil industry’s boom-bust cycle that has defined the region. Following the historic oil bust that hit West Texas in the mid-80s, the Western United Life Building, along with two other skyscrapers, were left to loom empty over the city’s downtown.

City of Midland

According to the Midland Reporter-Telegram, the Western United Life building was purchased by the Midland Development Corporation in 2018 with the goal of redeveloping the building.

But the group’s executive director, Sara Harris, told Marfa Public Radio in 2022 that renovating the space became too costly.

According to Harris, “It turned out not to be feasible, primarily because it is so much more costly to renovate an existing old structure than it is to build something new.”

Saturday morning’s demolition details:

  • According to the city, the implosion will take place at between 8:20 a.m. and 8:35 a.m.
  • Streets surrounding the "exclusion zone" will be closed off starting Saturday at 5:00 a.m.
  • The barricaded area will be north of W. Wall St. and south of W. Ohio Ave. between N. Marienfeld St. and N. Loraine St., which includes Centennial Park. 
  • City officials say anyone wanting to watch the demolition can view it from anywhere outside of the "exclusion zone."
  • Spectators are strongly encouraged to bring protective eyewear and a dust filter mask. The dust cloud following the implosion can come quickly, and its direction will depend on the weather conditions.
Carlos Morales is Marfa Public Radio's News Director.
Related Content