Frances Saenz lives in her high school library.

Really, it’s true. Her generously stuffed sofa fits, just so, under the 8-foot-tall windows along the back wall. Her front door is across from the study hall.

Before units at Historic Lofts at Waco High were complete, she and her husband, Mario, toured the building and handpicked their apartment.

The Saenzes graduated from old Waco High School in 1965. Frances Saenz said the couple couldn’t wait to live at the renovated school.

“That’s why we’re here,” Frances Saenz said. “When we walk through the building, all these memories come back, all these good memories.”

The century-old high school at Columbus Avenue and Eighth Street reopened with 104 loft apartments in January.

The four-story, 127,000-square-foot building is getting a big boost in the memory department this week.

Trophy cases

A group of alumni is cleaning up and moving boxes of old trophies and other memorabilia into trophy cases in the front halls of the building.

As the Waco High alumni placed trophies on the shelves, they also took a look at what their alma mater has become.

From chalkboard trays to some wood floors, many original pieces of the historic building remain.

“We’re delighted it’s being used instead of torn down. The reconstructive work they’ve done is really far beyond what we thought it would be,” said Winona Wieting Lipsett, a 1957 graduate.

Lipsett looked around the old study hall. Plush armchairs and couches for lounging are where rows of desks used to be.

The Spirit of Waco High mural on the stage is even getting a face -lift.

Lipsett’s former chemistry classroom is now home to tenant Robert Peterson.

“I like buildings with character,” said Peterson, who recently moved to Waco. “When I tell people where I live they say, ‘Oh, I went to school there,’ or ‘My dad went to school there.’ ”

As with any old building, there are ups and downs, Peterson said. He said he could do with a little more lighting outside.

At least 30 units are occupied and there are contracts out on others. Monthly rent ranges from $200 to $600.

The apartments are income-restricted. A family of four, for example, cannot make more than $32,460.

‘It’s great’

“I think it’s great. I hate to see old historical things get blown up,” said Joe Oliver, a 1957 graduate, while he looked around. “The only thing that I wish is that these walls could talk.”

They still do to Frances and Mario Saenz, who was a Waco High football player.

“We had so many great times. I’m 65, and when you look back, that’s what you want to remember,” Frances Saenz said.

“I imagine we’ll be here till the day we die.”


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