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The painstaking process of preserving a piece of Ravenna High School's history began on Monday.
Subcontractors for All Excavating of Youngstown removed the capstone above the arch Monday morning, about a week ahead of the previously-announced schedule. The stone columns were being removed by mid-afternoon, said Bill Wisniewski, director of business operations for the Ravenna School District.
Contractors began demolition on the structure in October, starting with the Coll Annex, which was constructed in 1957.
The original school, built in 1921, is still standing, as is Whittaker Hall, which was built in 1967. The walkway that connected Coll Annex to the main building was the first structure to go.
The Portage Port Authority agreed to develop the site if the district would clear the land. A market study on the 5-acre parcel at the corner of Main and Clinton streets is pending.
Part of the contract with All Excavating stated that the company must remove certain historical features for safe keeping, Wisniewski said. The arch is one of those. Other items that will be preserved include the bricks spelling out, "Ravenna High School" and the steps to the building.
The arch, he said, will be stored off-site until its future use is determined.
Wisniewski said the district hopes the developer will agree to incorporate the arch into its design plans "in memory of Ravenna High School."
Right now, he said, contractors still are removing the wood from the "old gym," also known as the study hall. That, he said, is a necessary step before demolition can begin, since materials from the high school are being recycled.
Starting early next week, demolition on the original high school will begin, starting with the north end of the building.
A policy to distribute bricks from the school to the public is pending. The bricks, Wisniewski said, will be separated depending on which building they originated from. However, no bricks will be distributed until after demolition begins on the main building.
"We want to make sure it's a safe methodology with the distribution of the bricks," he said. "We don't want to put anyone in harm's way."
The district is keeping a list of requests for bricks.
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