Boy Scouts Building

A rendering shows the look of the new Boy Scouts of America East Texas Area Council’s service center that will be built on East Fifth Street near Tyler Junior College at the site of the old building, which is being demolished. The new center will be named the Foster E. Murphy Scout Service Center, and Scout officials hope to be in the building by the end of the year.

TYLER — The Tyler service center for Boy Scouts of America East Texas Area Council is about to be knocked down, and a new center with a new name built in its place.

The service center at 1331 E. Fifth St., across from Tyler Junior College, will be renamed the Foster E. Murphy Scout Service Center and will contain about 10% more space than the old, 8,000-square-foot center, according to Daniel Anderson, chief operating officer.

The new structure, Anderson said, will have a natural, earthy look and an environmentally conscious design with a lot of wood, stone and glass. It will be more functional and at the same time modern, efficient and technologically capable.

It will reflect the idea of the Scouts as a modern, leadership-focused, youth-serving, nonprofit organization, Anderson said.

The Scouts need a new building because the existing service center is an aging structure about 60 years old, Anderson said. Its infrastructure is running down, the roof leaks, floor tiles are coming up and it has electrical issues, he said.

Another reason for building a new center is symbolic, Anderson said.

The old one looks like a Scout’s “grandpa’s building, and we want something that looks more modern, more inviting and better reflects who we are as an organization now, as opposed to who we were as an organization 60 years ago. It’s just time for a refresh,” Anderson said.

The new center will feature a separate conference room with a kitchenette and restroom facilities. The conference space will be available for use by a Cub Scout pack or Boy Scout troop, a subcommittee of volunteers or even other nonprofit organizations with which the Scouts work.

Conference activities will not interfere with operations of the rest of the building, and the conference room can be used after hours, during business hours or on weekends, Anderson said. The conference/meeting space will give the service center more of a community presence, he said.

The organization hopes to be in the building by the end of the year, Anderson said.

In the meantime, the center’s staff, Scout store and operations have moved into temporary quarters at 4908 Hightech Drive, where they will maintain business operations during construction.

The combined demolition and rebuilding project will cost about $1.25 million.

None of the funding will come from funds designated for annual operations, Anderson said.

Tom Prothro, council president and chairman of the building committee made up of members of the council and the Boy Scouts Foundation, said the lead gift from the family of Foster E. Murphy is already in hand to help pay for the project.

Anderson said it is fitting to name the new building in Murphy’s memory and as a tribute to his legacy in Scouting.

He described Murphy, who died last year, as “the epitome of Scouting in East Texas.”

Murphy was a former president of the board for East Texas Area Council of Boy Scouts, a Scoutmaster and one of the founding members of the East Texas Area Boy Scout Foundation.

His son, John Murphy, a member of the building committee and lead benefactor, recalled that his dad also did a lot of volunteer work for the council.

John Murphy said his father was involved for many decades with the East Texas Area Council and raised three sons who all earned the Eagle rank in Scouting.

The decision to rebuild in the service center’s present location was made to allow the center to continue to be easily accessible to Scouts and Scouting volunteers throughout the region, Anderson said.

“We feel we have a valuable location,” he said.

The service center serves about 7,000 Scouts in 17 counties, including Gregg, Harrison, Marion, Panola, Rusk, Smith and Upshur.