(Posted Sept. 21, 2022)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
The former school building and gymnasium at 60 S. Walnut St., London, are coming down.
On Sept. 15, London city council unanimously passed legislation that puts into motion the process of demolishing the building, which has sat unused for many years, and the gym, which the city uses for youth sports programs. The structures are located adjacent to city hall.
Earlier this year, the Ohio Department of Development awarded the city a $461,400 grant to tear down the old school, gymnasium, and boiler building, haul away the debris, remove the old sidewalks, and install new sidewalks. Council voted on Sept. 15 to accept the grant and to put the demolition project out to bid.
“The building is in pretty bad shape,” said council member Andrew Hitt, who noted that water in the walls keeps freezing and thawing, bricks have fallen off the exterior, and the plaster is bubbling up in spots in the gymnasium.
The former London City Schools building was built in 1911. The boiler building was built in the 1940s, and the gym was built in the 1960s. The city acquired the property in a land swap with the school district several years ago. In the swap, the school district acquired farmland owned by the city at State Route 38 and Keny Boulevard; it is now home to London Middle School.
The city must complete the demolition project by May 1. Until work begins, the parks and recreation department will continue to use the gym for youth sports programs including basketball.
Council member Greg Eades presented the idea of holding a public walk-through of the old school building to give people who attended school there one last look before it is torn down.
Mayor Patrick Closser opposed the idea for safety and liability reasons.
“I do not feel safe letting people walk through that building. At any point, any of that can fall,” he said, adding that the city’s law director would have to review the feasibility of any walk-through ideas due to liability concerns.
Closser clarified that the gym is still safe for use. The city has maintained temperature control in the gym, whereas they have not heated or cooled the old school for the past decade.
“I really think people would like to remember that building the way it was when they went to school there and not go in there and see what it’s turned into,” he said.
There has been discussion about allowing people to take bricks from the building as keepsakes, once it’s torn down. Closser said the city will try to do something along these lines but won’t know for sure if it’s possible until they talk to the company hired to do the demolition.
Hitt said he hopes to see some of the materials from the old school salvaged. Possibilities include four furnaces, oak flooring, fans in the gym, and the metal awnings on the exterior.