Crews work to tear down the old Immaculate Conception building on Laney Walker Boulevard. (WRDW-TV / May 15, 2012)
News 12 at 6 o'clock / Tuesday, May 15, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- It's a huge piece of Augusta history, and on Tuesday, crews worked to demolish the old Immaculate Conception Catholic Church and School on Laney Walker Boulevard.
It's a school with deep roots in the Laney Walker neighborhood. The bricks are nearly 100 years old, but in just a few hours, it will be an empty lot once again.
"It's just sad," said Ernestine Williams.
Williams taught here for 36 years and it's hard for her to watch the walls come down.
"All of the faculty members and everything have a lot of memories down here at the school," Williams said. "I hate to see it torn down. I was hoping to have somebody come in and save the school because it's history."
Tuesday crews began knocking down brick by brick, clearing some of the buildings that were built in 1913, nearly 100 years ago.
"I think they had a relatively small student body but a significant group," said Erick Montgomery, executive director of Historic Augusta Incorporated.
In 2009, the school moved across town, leaving the buildings vacant. The Catholic Church attempted to sell the property, but without any bites, they've decided to tear everything down.
"The community people really thought a lot of the school," Williams said.
Historic Augusta says they tried to help save the piece of history.
"We tried to get the attention of a number of different groups to help us come up with the solution and we just weren't successful, unfortunately. So it's an end of an era," Montgomery said.
Now Williams and other alumni have come to say their goodbyes.
"We can't get these irreplaceable historic resources back. Once they're gone, they're gone," Montgomery said.
"It's not going to be the same," Williams said.
"What's it going to be like to drive by?" asked News 12's Katie Beasley.
"Sad. I won't even look over this way. I just hate to see it go," Williams said.
Crews were out there most of the day and should finish up Wednesday or Thursday. Several people stopped by to take a picture or grab a brick from the building.
The owner of the construction company demolishing the property is actually an alumnus of Immaculate Conception.
A representative with the Catholic Church told News 12 they're hoping some more affordable housing can be built there along Laney Walker.