Butler school ‘deconstruction’ will change Butler landscape


BUTLER – The landscape in this village is about to change.

The 100 year-old elementary school building, sometimes described as a “put together” structure because it had so many additions, is about to be “deconstructed.”

The “deconstruction” term is one Jesse Gaines of L.J. Irving likes to use.

L.J. Irving, of Napoleon, is listed as a company that does “demolition.” But Gaines says “deconstruction” is better.

This technique differs from using a more drastic method to take down a building, says Gaines. In the case of Butler and Bellville, the idea is to retain bits of the old buildings so that people can have bricks, or maybe some other remnant to bring back memories.

L.J. Irving removed the similarly old brick building from its site in Bellville. The process has taken about six weeks.

Now the action is shifting to Butler.

Last week, Clayton Bockleman of L.J. Irving was in Bellville, clearing the last bits of material from the Bellville site.

Two new school buildings have been put in place in both villages.

In Bellville, people can — for the first time — see the south end of the new elementary structure. It had been up against the original elementary building.

The effort in Butler will begin in the northwest corner, where the library is located, Gaines said.

He has been working with a crew at Butler to prepare the interior, such as handling disconnected utility lines and making other necessary preparations.

The technique is the same as the one used in Bellville.

There, the “deconstruction” started in the gym area, then moved to the front.

Bellville residents frequently watched as a crew took down sections.

Initial work at the Bellville building involved smaller cranes taking down portions closer to the ground.

When it came time to take down the tower portion, people lined the adjoining street or watched from their front yards.

Bockleman operated the “rotating grapple” piece of equipment to topple the higher tower.

Gaines said doing that kind of work is “second nature” to Bockleman, because he has “done so much” of it and it is “straightforward” work for him.

The work looks effortless, but that is because so much “repetition” has given Bockleman specific skills, said Gaines.

Operating that “rotating grapple” equipment left observers awe struck, because the look was one of large jaws grabbing a portion of the building.

A specific schedule has not been put in place for the Butler project, said Gaines.

At the Bellville site, people were told they could go to a specific area and gather bricks, building remnants. Unwanted refuse was removed in giant trucks.

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By Louise Swartzwalder

Galion Inquirer