ATHENS, Ohio – Preservationists lost a battle as a historic, and according to legend haunted, building on the campus of Ohio University began to fall to demolition crews this week.
Community members had fought to save the 88-year-old Ridges Building 26 on the grounds of the university in southeast Ohio. It was built as a tuberculosis ward to a historically significant state mental hospital that operated on the property for more than a century beginning in 1868.
The Athens Messenger reported Friday that portions of the building have already been reduced to piles of rubble. The university said demolition is expected to continue through March.
The university decided to tear down the vacant structure because it had become an “attractive nuisance.”
The building, deemed unsafe due to its deteriorating condition, attracted many trespassers and vandals — partly due to its local reputation for being haunted.
Some in the Athens community had fought to save the building, which was given to the university by the state in the 1980s along with other buildings from the former mental health center that were collectively renamed The Ridges.
Ron Luce, executive director of the Athens County Historical Society and Museum, had pleaded with the university to come up with alternatives to demolition. He said he hopes city council will communicate with OU about preserving the other historic buildings that make up The Ridges.
“I’m sorry OU couldn’t see the value of keeping this historic building,” Luce told the newspaper. “This is our community and we need to have a single vision for how we want it to be. We’re not on the same page.”