Oldest part of former Holy Family School to come down this week

DANVILLE — A construction crew this week is scheduled to begin razing a section of the former Holy Family School.

Holy Family Parish hired Silver Bros. Construction of Hoopeston to demolish the western section of the building at 502 E. Main St., which was built in 1891 as St. Patrick's School.

"We're excited for them to start," said Ron Henton, building and grounds director for the Danville school district, which is purchasing the building from the Catholic parish to house the district's alternative education programs. "We're on a tight time schedule. We need to make sure that everything is done and the school is ready for teachers and students in the fall."

A demolition crew of about 10 people will be on site today or Tuesday, said Dan Silver, Silver Bros.' former owner and father of current owner, David Silver.

Plans call for using a large excavator to bring down the 20,000-square-foot brick building, which has two stories and a full basement. The demolition should take about three weeks.

"It will take a little extra time," Dan Silver said, adding the newer addition sits up against the older portion that's coming down. "They'll have to be careful when they're working up against the newer building. It sits at a lower elevation."

Silver said he and his son were hoping for a little rain throughout the project. He said a crew member will have to stand by with a hose to keep the dust down.

The crew will haul away the debris in semitrailers and fill in the basement. Henton said the district plans to seed and landscape the area and lay a sidewalk to a new door on the west side of the building.

Workers have already been in the building doing preparatory work, Silver said. He said they disconnected water lines, removed gas lines and transferred electrical services from the older building to the newer one.

The parish also had asbestos removed.

"The only thing we're waiting for now is the final permit" from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Silver said.

He added the crew hoped to begin the demolition about a month ago, but some of the preparatory work took a little longer than expected.

Holy Family Parish agreed to demolish the 121-year-old structure as part of its purchase agreement with the school district.

"We didn't really have a use for that space," said Henton, who inspected the building. "There was no sense keeping the structure considering its age and its condition. We would have had to do a lot of work to improve it, and that would have significantly added to the cost."

Under the agreement, the district is paying the parish $246,200 for the building, which closed as a Catholic preK-8 school in May 2011.

The building will house the district's alternative programs, now known as the Kenneth D. Bailey Academy after a 1930 Danville High graduate and a major in the U.S. Marine Corps who posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his heroic conduct at Guadalcanal in World War II.

The district also is paying McDowell Builders of Sidell $157,567 to renovate the existing building and install a covering on the west wall, which will be exposed after the demolition, and add new doors. The bulk of the renovation includes remodeling two large classrooms to create four smaller classrooms, converting a shower room into a refocus room, and reconfiguring restrooms and replacing fixtures.

"We've already started some of the preparatory work," Henton said, adding Comcast has been installing wiring for telephones, and Anderson Electric is running cables for computers and other technology.

"Ideally, we want to be done by the last week of July," Henton said of the work. "That will give us a chance to move furniture into the offices and desks and chairs into the classrooms and do a final cleaning. Teachers will want to be coming in around that time to start setting up their classrooms."

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