[Madison Moore | WOUB]

‘End of an era’: Athens’ West Elementary is demolished to make way for a soccer field

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Athens, Ohio (WOUB) — The site of West Elementary, which stood tall on Central Avenue for more than 100 years, is now under construction as the city prepares to replace the historic grounds with a soccer field.  

The former site of West Elementary sits empty after the building is demolished
West Elementary construction site. [Madison Moore | WOUB]
Ohio University senior Sydney Hosek attended West Elementary from kindergarten through sixth grade.  

“It’s the end of an era. It’s marking a new change. And it’s a big part of the community, so it is weird to see it go,” said Hosek.   

Hosek fondly recalled participating in school activities. 

“The memories mostly come from when I was really involved in student plays from kindergarten until sixth grade. Those are really great,” she said. 

Before the demolition of the building began on February 1, community members were invited to auctions to bid on remnants of the school. 

Hosek and her family attended one, bringing home a souvenir she said she will cherish forever — the wooden door to the theater stage. 

“My mom came in and found it. She said, ‘Somebody get a quarter,’ so we got it, and we took it off the hinges and mounted it to the top of the car,” Hosek said.  

The Athens City School District itself saved a historic part of the building: the cupola, which dates to the 1920s. 

“We thought that it was a very interesting feature that we should try to try to save and do something with down the road,” said Athens City School Superintendent Tom Gibbs. 

The small gazebo and the Civil War encampment in front of the building will remain.  

The district decided to demolish West Elementary because of its age and location, after deciding to consolidate Athens elementary schools from five buildings to three.  

“We knew that there would be a couple of locations that would not be used. This site would be one of the most difficult to build on, because it’s a relatively small footprint,” said Gibbs.   

The grounds will not be abandoned. A soccer field will take its place.   

Kosek said she’s happy the area will be filled with children again.   

I’m glad that they’re using something with the space rather than putting another building there. It would just feel kind of weird,” she said.  

The soccer field will be home to the Athens Middle School soccer teams.   

“The middle school is just up the street. And they’ve had challenges with soccer practice for years, because there’s no field immediately adjacent to the middle school, and they’ve been walking out to the State Street fields,” said Gibbs.   

He hopes the field will be ready this fall, but the teams may have to wait a year to ensure the grass grows well enough.  

“Our experience is that with the soil around here, we need to reseed repeatedly in order to get the grass to where it’s good enough to really be a playable surface,” said Gibbs.   

Gibbs said the demolition should be completed within six to eight weeks.