It dates back to the first World War but it couldn't withstand an arson last August. Not much is left of the old high school in Grayville, Illinois and nothing will remain in just a few months.
Since the arson in which three juveniles were charged, Grayville officials have been working with the Environmental Protection Agency. Cascading over a nearby road, scattered in piles around the campus, the debris isn't so much as an eyesore as it is a health and safety hazard, officials said. The building was abandoned in 1994 and has asbestos, according to EPA Project Manager Jody Kershaw.
"Today the purpose is to bring our state contractors out and to look at the site and develop cost estimates for us," Kershaw said.
With clipboards and cameras, the small group of people consisting of EPA officials, two contractors and Grayville Finance Chairman David Jordan spent more than an hour surveying the charred remains of the iconic building. Demolition could begin within two months once the contractors submit their bids, Kershaw said. Jordan expects the demolition process to take up to two more months, Jordan said. The cost is still to be determined but will likely exceed $200,000.
It came to life 1911 but was lost by fire in 2013. The building was home to more than 80 senior classes before being replaced with a new, state-of-the-art building. Jordan is just one of many proud graduates.
"I graduated in 1967," Jordan said. "That column was something that we passed three or four times a day going in and out of the school. It was really heartbreaking to see them in the ruins. You just didn't anticipate a brick building burning at that magnitude. I don't think anybody really anticipated that kind of devastation to the building."
It looks like a building you might find in Germany after World War II. The only things left standing are a few walls, the twin spires, and the cast-iron staircase. The hazards the building presents makes demolition necessary, officials said. But the history behind the building makes it difficult.
"It's a bitter sweet situation," Jordan said. "It's something we never want to see something like this demolished. But the condition that it is in right now is even sadder to look at under the current status."
"It's going to be several hundred thousand dollars," Jordan said. "We just don't have that kind of revenue laying around to pay for the clean up."