SIDNEY — Although a steady stream of people traveled up the hill south of Sidney to take photos of the Shelby County Children’s Home building throughout last week, a relatively small group of about 30 people gathered there Monday morning to watch the historic structure come down.
Three workers with Steve R. Rauch Inc., a Dayton demolition firm, took five hours to raze what had been the center building of the children’s home. A time-lapse video of the wrecking can be seen at www.sidneydailynews.com.
Dedicated in 1897 and among the most beautiful of children’s homes in the state at that time, the original structure also featured two cottages, one on either side of the center building, that were connected by glass-enclosed breezeways. The breezeways were rebuilt with block during World War II and had been taken down by the mid-1980s. The cottages were demolished in 1992 to provide parking space for the Shelby Hills Early Childhood Center. The center stopped serving as a children’s home in 1976. It housed offices for about 10 years and then hosted a local community theater troupe for another decade.
Monday’s work began with the careful cutting away of the building’s cornerstone and the retrieval from inside it of a time capsule that had been placed during the 1897 dedication. The cornerstone was moved to a flatbed truck and taken to storage. The capsule was presented to the county commissioners.
“We haven’t opened the capsule,” Shelby County Commissioner Tony Bornhorst said Tuesday. “It’s in a safe in the commissioners’ office.”
The elected officials plan to reveal the capsule’s contents during a rededication ceremony on the hill in late summer.
“We hope to involve the [Shelby County] historical society,” Bornhorst said.
A monument comprising the cornerstone and a flagpole to be erected close to where the home stood is under discussion. Immediate plans call for the area to be graveled for additional Shelby Hills parking.
Demolition of the building became necessary when its failing roof became a danger to Shelby Hills patrons and staff. Officials feared that pieces of the roof might fly off in a windstorm and hit someone at the learning center. The home had been vacant since 1995.