Former nursing school building to be demolished

Former nursing school building to be demolished

With a thoughtful nod to its surrounding residential and business neighbors, St. Vincent HealthCare is undertaking a piece-by-piece demolition of Seton Hall, a Riverside building which housed nursing students for two decades. Although an implosion or wrecking balls would take it down much faster, the careful approach by Brasfield & Gorrie LLC will minimize dust and vibrations in the surrounding area.

“St. Vincent’s is part of the Riverside/Avondale neighborhood and has been for nearly 100 years. We are doing our part to protect the river and nearby historic homes during this demolition,” said Lester Del Rosario, Senior Project Manager of Ascension Health Planning Design & Construction at St. Vincent’s.

The 65,000-square-foot historic building on the riverfront was no longer up to code, so St. Vincent’s Riverside closed off a section of the Riverwalk behind the medical center, then began demolition March 14. Most of the work last month focused on the interior of the building, with the exterior tear-down beginning in April. Demolition, which includes Bryan Auditorium, is expected to go through the end of June, with project completion in early August. The project was to have begun last fall, with estimated completion by end of December 2015.

Seton Hall was home to St. Vincent’s Nursing School since 1952, when it was built. The nursing school, which opened in 1919 in Springfield before moving to Riverside in 1928, closed in 1973. After that, Seton Hall was home to a variety of business operations before becoming unoccupied in early 2015.

Debbie Gottlieb, Nursing School Class of 1970, said she is sad to see the building demolished. Two things in Seton Hall reminiscent of her days at St. Vincent’s are the mailboxes on the wall and the emblem of St. Vincent’s Hospital School of Nursing on the floor of the entrance lobby at Seton Hall, she said.

“It has been comforting to revisit such an important time in my life,” said Gottlieb, who last toured the building at her 2010 nursing school reunion. “At the reunions in the past we have always visited Seton Hall; in fact, after touring the hospital we have had lunch in the River lounge. That was the place we had many events throughout nursing school days.”

The current plan for the historic mailboxes is to move them to the Debbie Gottlieb Center for Nursing Excellence, named in gratitude for a generous donation 12 years ago by Gottlieb and her husband, Mel, well-known philanthropists.

“Efforts are certainly being taken to preserve salvageable pieces of the building’s rich history, and items will be on display throughout our health ministry,” said Kyle Sieg, media relations coordinator, St. Vincent’s HealthCare. “The contractor will do the best they can to remove the emblem and preserve it. We will also be preserving the statues from Seton Hall and moving them to other locations across our ministry, though the specific locations are to be determined.”

At some point, St. Vincent’s will build on the land but there are currently no plans for development, according to Sieg. The space will be “greened” after the demolition.

“It is sad to see it go, but what we learned in those three years of nursing school has stayed with us throughout the years, and hopefully we were able to help many people with our skills,” Gottlieb said.

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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