COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - For John Crimmel, watching the walls of Baker High School tumble down has been emotional, to say the least. As president of the Alumni Association, he knows the building holds memories for the thousands of graduates.
"Baker High School has been the cornerstone of this community for so many years and to see it go, it's just like losing your best friend," he said.
Demolition started Thursday and Friday, newly exposed walls revealed old classroom chalk boards.
The back portion of the building off of Victory Drive is coming down first. That is the section that caught fire this past May.
The tear down is expected to take about 2.5 months.
"It's quite a project actually. It's another piece of Columbus history that's gone but it's progress and this has served it's time but it's time for it to go. As a result of the fire, this back wing, there'll be very little salvageable in here as far as bricks or anything in there but we'll separate what we can recycle and the rest of it will go to our landfill," explained Bill Reaves, President of Reaves Wrecking Co. Inc.
Not all of the bricks are being hauled off. Two thousand are being saved so that anyone can have a piece of the city's past.
"We are getting some bricks that we will salvage to see off for our school program with the Alumni Association," Crimmel said.
Once the demolition is complete, the site will belong to the Columbus Housing Authority thanks to a land swap with the Muscogee County School Board. In return, the school district plans to build a new elementary school on the 18 acres adjacent to Baker High.
A spokeswoman for the Muscogee County School District says the Baker High site was rejected by the Georgia Department of Education as a potential school site because of certain risk factors like heavy traffic and busy intersections.
"Baker High School just stood for so much, meant so much to so many people and we're hoping something good will come out of this," Crimmel added.
As for what will become of the space where Baker High sits, the director of the Columbus Housing Authority, Len Williams, says a decision has not yet been made.
He suspects at some point, it may be used for commercial space.
Columbus Fire officials say the cause of the fire is still under investigation.