Like other grand old buildings that have been torn down in Cumberland, it will be sad to see the former Allegany High School on Sedgwick Street gradually reduced to rubble. On the other hand, commencement of that work can’t begin soon enough for our liking.
Once a busy hub of public education, the vacant brick edifice is in a state of decay, having first been targeted by vandals and then by crews paid to remove hazardous asbestos contained therein and prepare the venerable structure for demolition. That process may begin before the end of the year, Allegany County officials recently said, and may take six months from start to finish.
First, however, they must solicit bids and decide which company’s workers will erase the building from the earth on which it sits.
The sooner the better. In its current condition, the property is a blight on a nice neighborhood. Nearby homes are well-kept and, once razed, the resulting footprint may provide room for fresh residential construction.
Of course that was the hope for land formerly occupied by Memorial Hospital, but we’re still waiting for the first new house to go up there.
Building new schools is expensive and getting rid of old ones is costly, too. The price tag just for getting the old Alco ready for the wrecking ball was $1 million. The county will employ a $2 million grant from the state of Maryland’s Strategic Demolition Fund to actually raze the structure.
Put up between 1925 and 1926, the old school closed three years ago after a new $55 million Allegany took shape atop Haystack Mountain following the closure of Sacred Heart Hospital and removal of its health care campus.
Local teams apparently are still playing fall sports on fields at the old school, so work won’t start until after competitions end for the season.
The thousands of young women and men who attended classes and earned diplomas at the old Alco no doubt have fond memories of their time there, and those recollections will remain strong long after the last brick is hauled away.