WELLSBURG - A building that served as an area parochial school for more than 50 years will be razed.
Bryan Minor, spokesman for the Wheeling-Charleston Catholic Diocese, said, "After several years of planning and consideration of many options, St. John the Evangelist Parish in Wellsburg and the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston have agreed to raze the former St. John school building, which is adjacent to the church."
He added, "St. John Parish has sought and received financial assistance from the diocese to help pay for the cost of demolition."
SCHOOL SET FOR DEMOLITION — After serving the community for more than 50 years, St. John School will be razed. Declining enrollment led to the school being closed in 2011, though it has been used by the St. John the Evangelist Parish for youth ministry. -- Warren Scott
Savage Construction of Wheeling has secured a building permit from the city for the building's $70,000 demolition.
The Rev. Dan Pisano, church pastor, said the work is scheduled for the first week of May because he and other church officials didn't want to clear the site during Lent and Easter.
Pisano said, "As for the future, no immediate plans have been made for the site. We know that the parish will be in place for many, many years to come and the site where the school building currently sits will be retained by the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston and St John Parish."
"However, we would like to utilize the site in the near future as a space for parking cars during Mass or other functions at the church. We will be devoting our planning ideas for the site to various other possibilities in the far future," he said.
Minor said parish leaders determined there is ample space for youth ministry and religious education at the church and the cost to maintain the former school building was too high.
He added, "While this marks the end of an era at St. John's and in the Wellsburg community, we are grateful for the generations of families who entrusted their children to St. John's. Parish leadership will continue to engage alumni and parishioners to keep the memories and traditions of the school alive. Although the school building itself will be gone, the legacy of its mission will carry on in the careers, families and noble work of the students who attended St. John's."
The school building on Charles Street was built in 1952, with a cafeteria and other rooms added in 1954. It once was attended by 144 students but declining enrollment led to it being converted to a preschool in 2010 and closed in 2011.
Even in its later years, the parish and its school board were strong supporters of the school, furnishing it with computer-aided projection screens and other equipment.
Playground equipment from the school has been donated to the city for its 4th Ward Park.
The first St. John School was operated at 415 Commerce St. from 1861-76. It was followed by another at the corner of Commerce and Fifth streets in 1917.
It was replaced in 1925 by a four-room school adjacent to St. John Catholic Church after the present church building was built on Charles Street in 1924.
Counting the three locations, St. John School provided a Christ-based education to area children for 94 years.
(Scott can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)