No wrecking ball needed.
A John Deere excavator bucket pushed Thursday against the brick and mortar walls of the former bus garage and maintenance offices at McCormick Middle School, knocking down the empty shell.
Demolition started early on Carpenter Street, where Ozanne Construction crews had originally aimed to begin Monday morning.
Resident John Westfall watched from outside the chain link fence perimeter of the work zone. “There’s a little nostalgia here for just about anyone who lives in town,” he said.
His band, Rock Island, was the last to play off the beloved 149-year-old building, which started in 1867 as Union School. Just to put that in a historical perspective, the original building was raised just two years after President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.
Westfall said Rock Island was honored to be part of the “Last Lunch” farewell party for McCormick.
He was also a bit wistful Thursday as the excavator bit into brick outside the band room where his children, Jamie Westfall-Nichols and Shana Cremer, spent many hours practicing and playing.
Similar emotions were voiced by many who approached the work area in the heart of Wellington.
The solemn tone was noted by Kristopher Wertz, project manager for Ozanne.
He’s presided over demolition of 12 antiquated Cleveland schools in recent years and said he’s never seen the spiritual attachment so evidenced in Wellington.
“I couldn’t get anybody to come out and care in Cleveland,” he said. “Maybe the turnover rate there was so high that nobody felt connected to those schools.”
The actual razing of McCormick is expected to take about two weeks.
The job includes not just knocking down walls but complete removal of the building’s footers that extend down into the earth.
Once complete, the rubble will all be removed — there’s barely a scrap that hasn’t been sold off to private firms for reclamation and recycling, which is typical for a demolition project — and dirt from the construction of the new McCormick Middle School will be trucked in to fill and level the entire area.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.
Photos by Jason Hawk | Wellington Enterprise An excavator tears into the wall of the former bus garage and maintenance division at old McCormick Middle School.