Lake County Land Reutilization Corporation helps Grand River lay its old school to rest . . .
As a result of a thorough joint effort between the Land Bank, Grand River Village Officials including Mayor Christopher Conley and Village Council President Ron Balog, the Hach Excavating & Demolition Inc. began razing the former Merrick Hutchinson School on Monday June 23, 2014. The work included the building’s demolition, excavation of its foundation, removal of the debris, clean back-fill, grading and seeding. Safe-Air Contractors were responsible for the extensive removal and proper disposal of the asbestos in compliance with EPA and Health Agency guidelines.
Merrick Hutchinson School, constructed in 1926, was named in memory of Merrick Hutchinson, honoring the only Grand River resident killed in the First World War. Merrick was the son of James Hutchinson, one of the first superintendents of the former Painesville Township School System. The school’s doors were closed in 1989 due to declining enrollment. Subsequent use included housing programs offered by the Lake County Health Center and again, as the Western Reserve Montessori School. Bingo was another frequent activity in the building many years ago. The structure which has been vacant approximately 10 years was acquired by the Village in January of 2012.
When the demolition began, the rear, side walls and core of the school building were demolished. There was hope that both the sandstone name plaque above the second floor windows and the engraved 1926 corner stone on the front of the building could be saved. Historians stated a belief that there was a time capsule enclosed within the corner stone.
With precision and skill, Paul Hach, Sr. gently tapped and loosened the sandstone plaque. Next the claw of his mammoth 98,000 lb excavator was used to edge the schools namesake out of the wall and drop it 50 feet below on to several old rubber truck tires. The tires successfully softened the landing protecting the stone from damage.
With residents returning to watch, a time capsule was unearthed from the corner stone by Ron Balog. Found within were memories from the schools beginnings. One of the documents enclosed included signatures from each of the students at various grade levels living in Grand River. A resident read off the various names and remarked that many of these families still live in the village – five generations later!
This collaborative effort helped the Village with its long term commitment to enhancing the quality of life in the Grand River Community. The Land Bank provided $62,000 towards the funding of this project which will help the Village allocate its remaining funds for future planned improvements to the village square.
Merrick Hutchinson School throughout its history was the bedrock of the Village.