Old Main Demolition to Begin Thursday

Crews will be working seven days a week to tear down and clear debris from the former Barat College site, which now belongs to Woodlands Academy.

A historic piece of the Lake Forest landscape will begin to crumble this week when demolition of the Old Main building begins.

Demolition is scheduled to start Jan. 9 on the shell of the building near the intersection of Westleigh and Sheridan roads. Old Main sits on the former Barat College campus, which is now owned by Woodlands Academy.

Interior demolition has been underway for the past year, leaving only the 110,000-square-foot building’s shell in place, according to the City of Lake Forest. 

“Today as the building stands, it is virtually gutted. This should allow the demolition of the building shell to proceed more quickly and cleanly than if this work was not done,” the city announced Wednesday, as it worked to spread the word of the exterior demolition. 

Demolition debris will be trucked away from Westleigh Road to Route 41. Trucks are not expected to use northbound Sheridan Road, the city said. 

Work will run from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends. It's expected to continue for several months, city spokeswoman Susan Banks said.

Old Main’s cupola has been removed by a crane and is currently sitting on Old Main’s front lawn. It’s expected to be restored by Woodlands Academy and displayed on the campus, possibly on the ground directly below where it sat on the roof of Old Main as a tribute to the building, which was constructed in 1904, and to Barat College, according to the city.

Woodlands Academy will fill and grade the site in the spring after demolition and cleanup have been completed. Under a master plan already approved by the City of Lake Forest, the land will be converted into school athletic fields. In addition, the driveway access to Woodlands Academy will be shifted to the south, away from the ravine and curve in Sheridan Road, roads on the campus will be reconfigured, and parking spaces will be added. 

The existing Cooney Library building will remain on the site and will be used by Woodlands for student and faculty activities. 

The front lawn will be preserved as open space and a connection from Sheridan Road to the McClory Bicycle Path will remain. 

For more information about the demolition, call Matt Goodman, City of Lake Forest building inspector, at (847) 810-3515. For information about Woodlands Academy, call the school directly at (847) 234-4300 or email info@woodlandsacademy.org.

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My2Cents January 08, 2014 at 05:23 PM
It's sad that this once prominent building could not be saved.
Vicky Kujawa January 08, 2014 at 08:35 PM
Blair Campbell January 08, 2014 at 09:16 PM
A Heartbreaking and disgusting show of wealth and power.
Me January 08, 2014 at 11:45 PM
Yes it is a shame that it could not be saved and used. However, it is a private building on private property and the school was allowed to do with it as they pleased.
Bruno Behrend January 16, 2014 at 09:11 AM
Sad that in today's day and age, some Bozo has to blather on about "wealth and power," as if economics should consist of emotional whims instead of supply and demand. The fact that Lake Forest, a crown jewel of idyllic suburban wealth, cannot support more high end development, is an indicator of the deep troubles brought on by demographics. First, even the most subsidized industry in America - higher ed - can't support an old and venerated college. Next, the land can't support tony condos for well-to-do suburbanites. The baby boomers are retiring, and their kids are a smaller generation not yet fully into their spending years. This is what happens in "reality." In the magical thinking of college indoctrinated "progressivism," it's always "wealth and power" or some such magical boogeyman.
Vicky Kujawa January 16, 2014 at 09:46 AM
Maybe it could be turned into tony assisted living for well-to-do retiring boomers........?
Timothy Brian Padden January 29, 2014 at 12:33 AM
While it is unfortunate the building, as well as the college could not be saved (demolition of Old Main was part of the deal for donating the former Barat College land), enrollment was down and Barat College would have gone out of business had DePaul (who invested over 8 million dollars in the school and gave the school 4 years it otherwise wouldn't have had) could no longer afford to spend that money on a satellite campus so their only choice was to sell the land.


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