The oldest section of the former McCormick Middle School is more fragile than originally thought.
Built in 1867-1868 as Union School, the central portion posed concerns for Kristopher Wertz, project engineer for Ozanne Construction.
He called the old walls “brittle” and worried they might collapse at the slightest touch of the enormous excavators brought in to demolish the building.
“We’ve seen it already,” he said Wednesday. “Once we got in there, some parts went down just from the vibrations.”
The school auditorium was destroyed very quickly the same day.
The roof arched over such a large area that workers could have simply smashed a corner and watched the entire thing collapse in a plume of dust.
Instead, with safety in mind, they took pains to methodically scrape away portions from the side.
As the auditorium was sheared into a cross-section, a steady stream of cars, photographers, rubber-neckers, and other passers-by flowed past the site on Carpenter and Courtland streets where the view was best.
Eighth-graders Mikailah Godsey and Allie Starner stopped to watch on their way from the Dukes stadium on Dickson Street. Godsey runs track and Starner is a cheerleader.
“It’s weird to see it go, just for the fact of everything I experienced there,” Godsey said. “But at the same time, it’s good for it to come down, I suppose. It means all the dangerous things inside will be gone.”
“It’s crazy. I have a lot of memories in this school. We’ve had choir concerts and everything,” said Starner — “And now it’s just gone,” Godsey finished her thought.
They pointed to where the music room used to be and talked about memories of classes and time spent in the cafeteria.
The girls attended McCormick four years before transferring for a short time in 2015 to Wellington High School.
The eighth grade has since been relocated to the new McCormick Middle School.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.
Photos by Jason Hawk | Wellington Enterprise Ozanne Construction workers tear into the northern wing of the former McCormick Middle School, tearing the side from the old auditorium. That part of the building famously was home to the combination stage and basketball court, a feature that has all but disappeared from schools.