The demolition of two former Big Hollow school buildings finally began Thursday after weeks of delays.
Dilapidated walls and ceiling tiles were ripped down by backhoes at Taveirne Middle School at routes 12 and 134 in Fox Lake, Big Hollow Elementary District 38 school board officials said.
At the same time, asbestos removal is under way on Big Hollow Primary School building, located nearby on the same 12-acre site. That building will be torn down when the asbestos work is completed.
"I'm glad to see they are making progress," board President Vickie Gallichio said. "I would like to see it move a little faster, but at least the work has started."
Demolition of the buildings was expected to be completed by the first of the year, Gallichio said, but was delayed due to cold weather and snow.
"But, it's moving forward now, so we are hopeful it'll be completed soon," she said.
The district approved the demolition of the structures in October to make the proposed sale of the land more enticing to potential buyers. The district is seeking a minimum price of $5 million for the prime piece of Route 12 real estate.
Nancy Kubalanza, president of the Fox Lake-Grant Township Area Historical Society, said the loss of the "cute" old schools is a shame.
"When we moved here in 1971, I remember coming down 12 and going over the hill and seeing that school," Kubalanza said. "It was so cute. It was one of the things I really liked about driving into Fox Lake."
The primary school is the older of the two buildings, but it's unclear exactly how old it is. Kubalanza said the original wood framed structure was built in 1873, but renovations and additions in 1945 and 1967 completely replaced or added on to the original structure.
"We did get some donations to the historical society from the district," Kubalanza said. "We took a couple desks and a clock, and an old heavy door. So, some of the building is being preserved here."
The district officially vacated the structures in 2006 after construction on two new schools at Nippersink and Fish Lake roads.
Since the move, the original primary and middle school buildings have fallen in deep disrepair, prompting the village of Fox Lake to condemn the structures.
"It's always sad to see a historical building like that go down," Kubalanza added. "But, that's the way it goes."