Lake Zurich District 95 makes plans to demolish old May Whitney school

  • Lake Zurich Unit District 95 officials have agreed to spend about $937,000 to demolish the old May Whitney Elementary School in Lake Zurich. The building dates back to 1929, first opening as Ela Township High School.

    Lake Zurich Unit District 95 officials have agreed to spend about $937,000 to demolish the old May Whitney Elementary School in Lake Zurich. The building dates back to 1929, first opening as Ela Township High School. Daily Herald File Photo

 
 
Updated 11/23/2021 5:59 PM

Now that community members had their final chance to say goodbye to the old building, the plan to demolish the former May Whitney Elementary School in Lake Zurich is taking shape.

Lake Zurich Area Unit School District 95 leaders have agreed to spend about $937,000 to tear down the building at 100 Church St., parts of which have stood for nearly a century.

 

Work began Monday on abating asbestos in the building, before the demolition begins in earnest in late January or early February, according to school officials.

Earlier this month, district officials led community members on tours of the building, which opened in 1929 as Ela Township High School.

Jean Malek, the district's executive director of communications, said during the tours she spoke with former students who had attended the school through each of its incarnations: Ela Township High School, Ela-Vernon High School, Lake Zurich High School, Lake Zurich Junior High School, Lake Zurich Middle School North, and, finally, May Whitney Elementary School.

"The stories were really interesting, but at their core -- regardless of the generation -- they were about friendships, shared experiences, and great times," Malek said. "People were very grateful to have one last opportunity to see their school and often came together with friends."

Last Thursday, the school board voted to pay Arlington Heights-based Johler Demolition Inc. $718,000 to demolish the building and Franklin Park-based Husar Abatement Ltd. $219,000 to safely remove asbestos.

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All that is left to be decided is how many bricks to preserve from the old building and what to do with them, said Vicky Cullinan, assistant superintendent of business and operations. Those decisions likely will be made in December.

In addition to bricks, workers could preserve the black stone facade at the main entrance, the building's dedication plaques and the limestone architectural elements at the original entrance.

Once the asbestos is removed and before the building is demolished, fire and police departments will be given an opportunity to use the building for training exercises, officials say.

After the building comes down, the district will expand the parking lot and add a new play field for students at the new, $43.4 million May Whitney Elementary, which opened next door at the start of the current school year.

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