Demolition begins on former school in Westville
WESTVILLE — A crew began demolishing the former St. Mary's Catholic grade school building on Monday.
"It breaks my heart," the Rev. Timothy Sauppe said.
He said preparations for demolition had been going on for weeks as crews were slowly removing metal, wood and other salvageable materials from the interior.
The Catholic grade school closed in May 2010, because of declining enrollment and financial support despite efforts to keep it open by parents and community members parishioners of St. Mary's Church in Westville. Parishioners walked the halls of the 53-year-old school building for the last time in January.
St. Mary's school was established in 1903. It closed briefly during the Great Depression in the 1930s, then reopened toward the end of the decade. The current school building was built in 1960. Enrollment peaked with 369 students in the 1966-67 school year, but continued to decline in later years.
Sauppe has been with St. Mary's for five years and his first two years were involved with trying to save the school, and it's been empty his last three. He said the cost of insurance and utilities are too high on an empty building. He said 30 percent of the building is used about 1 percent of the time, and so much of the structure needed updating to continue to keep it open. He said plans are to turn the space into a green area.