The powerful engine roared to life Dec. 23 as the excavator began knocking down the walls of the Englewood High School building at 3800 S. Logan St.
Crashing walls and roof areas announced the visible start of phase 2 of creation of a seventh- through 12th-grade campus on the Englewood High School campus.
Crews took out the main school office as they began the demolition. The walls and roof are gone plus the crew removed the door off the school safe to be recycled.
The excavator ripped down walls, scooped up massive amounts of debris but also could delicately pull a single length of wire out of the rubble.
“That operator is pretty amazing,” Brian Ewert, school superintendent, said as he watched the operation. “They let me run the excavator to start the demolition. I did two pretty simple operations but I quickly told them it was too complicated and to get me out of there.”
Hector Torres, who operates the excavator, said he has been at the controls of the 100,000-pound machine for about five years.
“Operating the machine properly, whether it is knocking down a wall or separating pipes from the debris, is hard to learn and takes practice,” he said. “When I started, running the machine was fun but while I still I like the work, each job is pretty much the same.”
Ewert said officials at Engineered Demolition, which is doing the work, estimates it will take four to five weeks to clear the site. When the demolition is completed, the only structures remaining from the original high school building will be the auditorium and the field house.
Demolition of the main building attracted a number of spectators, including Joyce Crispin, who said she was sad to see the school she attended being torn down.
“I went here for a couple years in the ‘60s and I have some great memories of Englewood High School,” she said. “But time marches on. I looked online at what they have planned and it will be wonderful for the kids. I now live in Alabama, I am visiting friends for Christmas and I just had to come down and see the school before it is no more.”
The school district’s campus construction project became a reality when residents approved a $40 million bond issue in 2012. The district also received an $8 million state grant for the ambitious project.
Phase one involved demolition of the north portion of the school, including the auto shop, wood shop and swimming pool. When the demolition was completed, crews constructed the new gymnasium and wing that will eventually be home to the middle school, plus the cafeteria as well as the student commons areas.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, high school and Englewood Leadership Academy classrooms and equipment were moved to the new wing so the remainder of the high school building could be demolished.
When the project is completed in December 2014, Englewood High School, Englewood Middle School and Englewood Leadership Academy will be located on the new campus.
During creation of the new campus, Englewood Middle School has been renovated and, when the middle school students move to the new campus, Colorado’s Finest Alternative High School will move to the building at 300 W. Chenango St.