By MORGAN MANNS
FOR THE COURIER
For more than a century, St. Wendelin Elementary School has sat at the corner of Wood Street and College Avenue.
The St. Wendelin community will say goodbye to the historical structure during a goodbye ceremony Oct. 20.
The ceremony will begin at 4 p.m. when people will gather outside of the elementary school building. A prayer service will take place at the 4:30 p.m. Mass, followed by a spaghetti dinner in the parish hall, where those in attendance can share their memories of St. Wendelin Elementary School in the forms of stories or pictures.
“This is sad. I know people are disappointed this is happening. I am, too,” said Jon Hay, director.
While the building has cost more than $50,000 to maintain, the issue is no longer solely about the money.
“Unfortunately, it’s not just a financial concern,” Hay said. “It’s now become a safety concern. It’s just not safe. To be a good community partner, we can’t just continue to let it go, and we don’t have the funds to dedicate to keep it the way it needs to be kept for the betterment of Fostoria.”
Built in 1909, the structure has been vacant since 2010, when the high and junior high school merged with the elementary school due to low enrollment numbers. All students then studied on one campus at 533 N. Countyline St.
When St. Wendelin closed its high school in 2017, officials intended to move K-8 students back into the elementary building. Last year, officials met with a contractor to see what it would take to breathe new life into the old building, but the consensus was that it was “just too cost-prohibitive.”
The project would have included $50,000 just for cleaning water damage from the leaking roof and mold accumulation in the lower levels. A new roof would cost another $30,000.
Sandstone along the top of the building has also begun deteriorating, including a 4-foot section that recently fell and shattered on the ground.
Additionally, Hay said there has been an uptick in vandalism to the structure. Most recently there have been attempted break-ins as well as busted windows.
Those issues, coupled with the fact that the facility didn’t have necessary amenities, swayed the decision to keep K-8 students in the North Countyline Street building.
“(The elementary building) doesn’t have a gym or a nice cafeteria. There’s no place for the festival on this campus,” Hay said. “To turn it into a nice learning facility would cost upwards of $1 million to fix and folks didn’t want to make that investment.”
Tearing down the structure will require less than $100,000. The parish spent $22,000 for the removal of asbestos and other hazardous contaminants, which was required by law. Hay said Sunny Farms Landfill has agreed to take all of the debris at no charge to help keep costs low.
A local company should begin the demolition process Nov. 15 and be completed by the end of the year, weather permitting.
Pieces of the structure are being saved for donation to the Fostoria Area Historical Society as well as for a future memorial to be placed at the site of the elementary building.
Once demolition begins, a pile of bricks will be set aside for community members to take and keep as memorial tokens of the school.
The area where the building sits, as well as the blacktop area to the east of the structure, will be dug up and grass seed will be planted to create a grassy lot for a small memorial marking the location as a piece of St. Wendelin’s history.
For more information on the history of the building as well as the St. Wendelin community, visit http://stwendelin.org/history-of-sw-parish