Workers from the Garfield Heights, Ohio-based Baumann Enterprises, Inc., began major demolition of Building 26, a former tuberculosis ward located on Ohio University's Ridges property, on Wednesday.
OU announced last September that it was planning to raze the building, which was more than 90 years old and reportedly in deteriorating condition. The university, which received $300,000 in state capital funding to help pay for the demolition, said the building was an "attractive nuisance" that drew trespassers and vandals.
Local historical preservationists had spoken out against the destruction of a building they said had historical value, as part of a former mental health complex located on the Ridges that dates back to the mid 19th century.
In addition to tearing down the building, OU will have to deal with abatement of asbestos and lead paint in the facility.
Though The Athens NEWS was in touch with OU media staffers and Facilities Management officials Tuesday and Wednesday with questions related to the demolition project and the Ridges, nobody mentioned that major demolition had started. The NEWS had asked to be alerted when the work began.
An OU spokesperson said Thursday that various demolition steps began as early as March 4, and that the university's contractor was keeping to a previously announced and publicized demolition timetable.
An Ohio University Police cruiser was stationed at the work site Thursday morning.