The Ottumwa Courier

December 4, 2012

On the path to demolition

St. Joseph Hospital will not be razed until antennas established on new site

CHELSEA DAVIS
Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — Several steps still need to be taken before the old St. Joseph Hospital can be razed and the land sold.

“There has been an increase in activities at St. Joseph over the last month with the removal of the last of the equipment, storage items being relocated, bricks being removed and protective fencing being placed around the building,” said Phil Dionne, CEO of Ottumwa Regional Health Center, in a news release.

ORHC is working with city and county officials, EMS and police and sheriff’s departments regarding the nine antennas still housed on top of the facility.

“Once the collective agencies have a new antenna built and operational, these antennas on top of St. Joseph Hospital will be removed,” Dionne said. “No removal will happen until a new site has been established as these antennas are key communication links for emergencies in the area and outlying areas.”

The date of the building’s demolition has not yet been determined. Once the antennas have been removed by their respective owners, ORHC will develop a “request for proposal” for demolition of the facility. Upon award of the contract, a timeline will be established.

Following removal of the building and restoration of the property, it will be marketed for sale at a price yet to be determined.

An independent consultant placed a value of the land sans building this year at approximately $650,000.

St. Joe’s Hospital opened in 1925 and closed its doors in 2008. The building contains a large amount of asbestos, the roof is collapsing and it would cost more to refurbish the entire building than it would to raze it, Dionne previously told the Courier.

In April, hundreds gathered inside the hospital to say their final goodbyes, including eight Sisters of Humility who used to work at the hospital.

In July, hospital employees cracked open a time capsule found during the removal of the cornerstone from the front of the hospital. Inside they found a 1925 edition of the Ottumwa Daily Courier, a 1924 edition of The Catholic Messenger, business cards, coins, medals, rosary beads, a religious relic and a letter.

The footings for the new communications tower will be installed this month so that crews can begin constructing the tower over the winter, the Wapello County Board of Supervisors previously said. Once they are up, the antennas can be attached, meaning the system will be ready sometime this spring.

The tower will be located behind the former Washington School located on Fourth Street.