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Building at Ridges could be torn down
Editor’s note: Wesley’s last name has been omitted to protect his identity.
Ohio University officials are planning on demolishing a building at The Ridges despite protests from local historians.
The Beacon School, which was originally built in 1924 and was used to house tuberculosis patients, is now vacant. University officials expect it to be demolished by Halloween.
“The university has gone through great efforts to block off the building,” said Harry Wyatt, associate vice president for Facilities. “It doesn’t work too well. There is some hazardous materials contamination, and the best thing to do for the building is to demolish.”
The project is part of OU’s Capital Improvement Plan and the state received $300,000 in state appropriations to fund the building’s destruction. However, Wyatt said he hopes the total cost is lower.
Officials at the Athens County Historical Society & Museum want OU to use the money elsewhere, said Tom O’Grady, president of the society, in a news release.
“For the amount of money the university is receiving to demolish this building, the Athens County Historical Society believes that the community would be better served to use that money to secure the building from trespassers and vandals, until a plan for restoring the building can be created,” O’Grady said.
OU has protected the area for many years from vandalism and it is a popular spot to trespass, especially around Halloween, Wyatt said.
Wesley, an OU freshman studying business, said he was curious to explore The Ridges and did so during Bobcat Student Orientation — a visit that ended in a trip to court.
“Lots of people talk about going in there,” Wesley said. “I was just there at the wrong time, I guess. I was just exploring with some of my friends. I’m not getting close to the buildings anytime soon.”
Though a firm has not yet been chosen for the demolition, Panich-Nowell, a local architectural firm, will work with OU to decide the best way to demolish the property, said Donna Goss, director of real estate and engagement.
“The Athens County Historical Society would like to partner with the university in developing a sustainable and creative approach to the long term use of these structures for the benefit of the university and the community,” O’Grady said.
OU was gifted The Ridges, a total of more than 665 acres, in 1988 by Ohio’s 17th General Assembly, Goss said.