MARIETTA - The former North Hills Elementary School is no longer standing, and neighbors are curious to see what the future holds for the site.
The seven-acre property was sold in April to The Brunton Development Co. Ltd. and BRB Development LLC, both of Marietta, for $61,500. The Marietta City school district had been spending about $10,000 a year on utilities for the building, which was only used for storage and wrestling practice. At one point, district officials received estimates of $200,000 to demolish the school.
"I'd just like to see it used," said Neva Rees, 91, who lives across Colegate Drive from the school. "It's been vacant for so long."
Photo by Evan Bevins
An excavator from Burkhart Excavating lifts rubble from the former North Hills Elementary School on Colegate Drive Thursday.
Demolition of the school began two weeks ago, and it's expected to be another week before the site is cleared, said Bruce Brunton, with Brunton Development. He said plans for what will be done with the property are still being finalized, but an announcement is expected soon.
"It's been very interesting trying to figure out what they're going to do," said Mary Maloney, 68, a neighbor of Rees. "We've heard various rumors."
The school was built more than 60 years ago and closed in 2003 as part of a series of cost-cutting moves for the district. The district received inquiries about it over the years but was unable to make a deal before this spring.
One of the factors that may have hampered a sale was the property's location in an area zoned as R-1. Because of that, potential uses for the site were limited to things like single-family dwellings, churches, museums, public community centers, monasteries and convents or agriculture uses, including greenhouses.
District Superintendent Harry Fleming said when the sale was approved that they understood the companies planned to construct a residential building on the property.
While Maloney said "it's always sad to see neighborhood schools close," she's glad to see something taking its place.
As the building sat empty, it began to look more and more run down, she said.
Rees recalled seeing folks stop by to take pictures of the old school. Her grandson, visiting for Christmas, told her it was strange to see his former school being demolished.
Rees said it was nice to live across from the school while her grandson attended it.
"He'd always wave to me. I'd be out working in the yard," she said.