Monday, May 5, 2014

Demolition Article Featuring the Old Eben School

From early June 1991
Old Eben School Demolished

EBEN - Science teacher Ann Aho didn't believe it would bother her to watch the demolition of the 76 year-old Eben School.  

"But when I came in this morning and saw the hole," Aho said Monday, "I felt teary-eyed.  I think I have taught in every room in that old building.'
The school, built of local limestone in 1915, tumbled to the ground Monday to make way for an expansion.

The demolition was in some ways a final chapter in the consolidation effort that produced the Superior Central School District, bonding the Trenary and Eben schools in the late 1980's.  The former Trenary High School has been sold.
"It was necessary," said Pat Porter, mother of three Superior Central students.  "The building had outlived its usefulness as a school.  Children are our most important resource and this building just wasn't doing the job anymore."
The demolition team - Associated Contractors of Marquette - began razing the limestone structure with a crane early Monday, making way for a 45,916 sqare foot addition and room for 296 students.  Renovation will include a new elementary wing, remodeled gym and conversion from steam to hot-water heat. 

Before workmen could rope off the demolition area, people scrambled to carry away jagged pieces of limestone and window block from the rubble pile.  Bystanders commented that there wouldn't be any rubble for the contractors to haul away, with so many local people grabbing the heavy chunks for mementos. 

"My grandpa, Thomas Hallstrom, was foreman when this school was built,"  said Violet Maki, holding her own grandchildren so they could see what was going on. "It's kind of sad to see this go."  

Elementary school teacher Sue Mohrman, carrying a piece of debris, said the demolition was "sad but necessary."   

"Education wasn't being met in the condition the school was in," she said. "This is not like a death, but for some people there are a lot of memories here."  

Resident Walter Salo, 65, a graduate of the school, wasn't sorry to see it go.   

"When I was a kid we used to play down there in that basement and there was dust everywhere. People were always sick because the dust never left the basement," he said.  "Just the other day I looked down there and it was just the same - no ventilation. I don't mind at all that it is going."  

Although the renovation is on schedule - it's expected to be finished this year - school officials still face problems that have arisen due to the many additions that have been added over the years.  The gym was added in 1947, the elementary wing in 1961, and further additions to the high school, gym and elementary section in 1976.  

Still Superintendent Tony McLain faced the demolition with optimism. 

"This is one more step toward getting our kids in the new building," he said.  "Whenever I get sentimental, and I do, I remember what we have been working toward and that takes care of the sentimentalism."

Article from The Mining Journal - Marquette, MI.  Copyright 1991.

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