Downed ceiling tiles. Wooden planks pulled from the gym floor. Bare concrete where lockers used to be.
The inside of the old Shupe Elementary is darkly desolate as the building’s last days near.
Memories of ABC’s and 123’s live in the shadows. A reading or science textbook can be spotted tucked away in what used to be a first grade classroom, and the odd chalkboard remains here and there.
Some rooms are bare, others filled with broken chairs, old-style television sets, boxes, filing cabinets, or bits of long-outdated technology.
A wing used by the Amherst school district for storage has largely been gutted and cleaned out. Great Lakes Church, which leased Shupe’s other wing, cleared out in May and relocated to Lorain, leaving a painting of Noah’s ark and other Sunday school remnants.
Teacher Russ Marty, who has worked to document the district’s history, walked the hallways with us recently, getting a look at the 57-year-old school before it is demolished later this year.
Seeing Shupe reduced to a shell is depressing, he said. “I went to school here and have nothing but good memories,” said Marty. “I had good teachers here, just really enjoyed this place.”
The elementary school closed in 2013 as Amherst enrolled fell off and maintenance costs rose. Icon Construction will take over both the Shupe and Harris Elementary properties Aug. 1 to prepare both for destruction.
The hand-off date is a month later than originally intended.
District superintendent Steven Sayers said a delay in putting together certain bid documents caused the push-back. Demolition is still expected in late August or September.
In the meantime, the Amherst police have asked to use Shupe and Harris for training exercises.
Police chief Joseph Kucirek said local officers and possibly county SWAT want to practice for active shooter and rapid response scenarios.
Once the buildings are completely cleaned out, Sayers said he would like to make them available for the public to get “one last peek before they come down” and say goodbye. Details aren’t firm and there could be liability issues.
When demolition day finally arrives, you could help knock down the Shupe and Harris walls.
The Amherst Schools Educational Foundation is raffling off several chances (for adults) to take “the first bites” out of the old buildings. Tickets are $10 each or six for $50 and can purchased from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday at the Amherst board of education office, 185 Forest St., or at the foundation’s page at www.amherstk12.org.
Demolition is tied to the construction of a new Powers Elementary School for grades PK-3 where Harris stands.
The costs of removing Shupe and Harris, as well as Powers Elementary eventually, were included in the state’s share of the $32 million project.
Architects from the GPD Group are working on a site plan for the new Powers building on South Lake Street. They recently showed the board of education how concepts for the school have evolved in recent months.
Meetings with teachers, administrators, and members of the public have helped shape what the building will look like, the architects said. So have tours of schools in New Albany and West Muskingham.
They are meeting again this summer with teachers to get feedback on early schematics, then detail will be added to the drawings over a three-month period.
Groundbreaking will be next year and teachers will move into the school in July 2019.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.