The former Webster school building was under the wrecking ball Monday after unsuccessful efforts by the Hillsboro Church of Christ to find a buyer for the property.
In a note to the community, the church stated that the facility has become “unsightly and unsafe due to non-stop disrespect and vandalism.”
The statement said that “ongoing attempts to find a suitable and viable buyer for the property have yielded no serious offers” and “new city ordinances concerning vacant buildings are becoming more stringent.”
Complete removal of the West Walnut Street building will take about a month, according to the statement.
Jim Bush, lead minister of the church, told The Times-Gazette that the property will be turned into attractive green space for the time being. He said the decision to tear the building down was made by church elders.
The church purchased the facility several years ago when it was closed after Hillsboro City Schools completed new school facilities. The church operated a Christian school there for a while, and used it for youth services.
The statement from the church says, “We regret any inconvenience or unavoidable disturbance this may cause. However, once this project is complete, our community will be safer and more attractive. We are also confident that the value of homes in that particularly neighborhood will increase as a result.”
The statement refers to the “sad demise of the old Webster school building,” and expresses appreciation “for your understanding and cooperation.”
According to an online listing from a few years ago, the Webster school included 24,000 square feet sitting on 2.7 acres. It fronted three streets, and was made of masonry and brick with a flat rubber roof. It had block interior walls and tile flooring.
According to school officials, Webster was originally built in 1868 when it was called the Union school. The name was changed to Webster in 1897. Originally three stories tall, a story was removed and wings were added over the years. The facility was last used by the school district in 2007.
Webster school was the focus of national attention in the 1950s due to a segregation issue. As recounted in a recent Times-Gazette feature, it was the last elementary school in Ohio to desegregate, after an order from the U.S. Supreme Court.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.