Demolition Set For Old Lunatic Asylum Building

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The days are numbered for a historical building on Ohio University's campus that some Athens community members say they hope can still be saved.

The demolition of the old tuberculosis ward building, referred to as Building 26, at The Ridges is scheduled to take place next month, says university spokeswoman Katie Quaranta.

Quaranta did not give a specific date.

Athens County Historical Society and Museum Executive Director Ron Luce says he reached out to the university a number of times to discuss the fate of the old building, but felt the efforts of the ACHSM "have largely been ignored."

The project is part the Ohio University 2013 Capital Plan that was approved by OU trustees last June.

Quaranta says university leaders weighed possible options for the building and met with members of the historical society before deciding to raze the building.

Luce says he is concerned the upcoming demolition could lead to the tearing down of other buildings at The Ridges.

"One of the things I want to make clear here is this is not just about Building 26. Building 26 is a concern, but the bigger concern is the whole asylum grounds," said Luce.

He cites a document from November 2006 that appears on the university's facilities web site which recommends retaining five of the 17 buildings at The Ridges in a future revision of the property.

That document is not an "implementation document" according to Quaranta, but rather a reference document used to guide overall planning efforts.

She says there are no plans in place to demolish other buildings at The Ridges.

The university will begin a master plan effort for The Ridges sometime in the next year and plans to work with members of the historical society and other organizations on that document.

"Our goal for a Ridges master plan is to supplement, and more likely replace, The Ridges portion of the November 2006 Master Plan Report that is available on the web," says Quaranta.

Luce says he recognizes the university owns the property and the buildings located at The Ridges and can make changes as they wish.

"I think Ohio University needs to be reminded that it's part of this community. We are all in this together, we all have to live here. Particularly The Ridges, what they refer to as The Ridges, is a part of our history and our culture and whether we technically own it or not, most of us feel like it's a part of us and a part of our community and we don't want to lose it," said Luce.

The property in question was last used as a special education center known as the Beacon School before being closed.

An online petition now appears at the website, reportedly posted by members of the historical society.

The petition is addressed to OU president Dr. Roderick McDavis and OU Board of Trustees members, asking they restore the buildings at The Ridges and maintain them for prosperity.