By Darrell Todd Maurina
As one of Roosevelt County’s oldest communities, Elida has had a long time to build a rich history. It’s also had a long time to accumulate dust and dirt.
Beginning this weekend, Elida residents are starting to spruce up their town by painting older buildings, removing junk, and otherwise getting the town ready for its annual July 4 celebration.
The project is the brainchild of a Dora couple who recently purchased a building in Elida.
In the process of fixing up the old North Side Feed Store building his wife purchased on the town square that will one day serve as her painting studio, Delbert Bradley approached others in the community to see if they would also like to fix up their own buildings as well as buildings that are now vacant.
“Because they’ve got the new roads in, we decided, ‘Hey, let’s clean up and paint everything white,’” said Delbert Bradley, a Dora native who left the area in 1943 but came back in 1998 to pastor the Dora Church of Christ. “Most of the buildings are empty, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make them look nice.”
Bradley said Elida has so many vacant buildings because it was once a significant center of regional trade.
“Elida was once bigger than Portales and Clovis both, but it ran out of water so people moved away, mostly to Portales,” Bradley said.
When others got interested in the cleanup project, the village council pitched in and agreed to pay for $1,000 worth of paint and equipment as well as hauling away junk left around vacant buildings. A local restaurant, the Branding Iron Cafe, agreed to feed cleanup volunteers for free.
One of those volunteers was Elida native Ronald Anthony.
“I’m real interested in this town,” Anthony said. “My granddad helped homestead here in 1902 and he helped build a lot of the buildings in town.”
Buildings erected by Anthony’s grandfather include the Elida United Methodist Church, now the town’s senior center, and the IOOF hall. Both of those are on the list to be repainted and cleaned up.
Anthony said he was happy to see Bradley take the leadership in the Elida project.
“He decided he wanted to spruce up the town and clean up all the old buildings he could, so he enlisted all the citizens around to come in, mow, paint, and clean up some of the buildings,” Anthony said.
Bradley said he has more plans down the road to help Elida. When he purchased the feed store, he discovered that items stored there included memorabilia from the community’s earliest days.
“The Portales National Bank started here in Elida, and we have one of their teller windows and I’m refinishing it,” Bradley said. “They left one window and a vault to serve the customers until they finished moving to Portales.”