Elmhurst High faculty, alumni ‘sad to see it go’

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) –  The former Elmhurst High School will soon be torn down after sitting vacant for seven years.  Former faculty and students said they are sad to see it go. They said the building, which is almost 90-year-old, holds countless memories.

The building was sold earlier this month by Fort Wayne Community Schools for $600,000. The new owner, Hanson Aggregates Midwest LLC, conducted a site inspection of Elmhurst and determined the building is in a state of disrepair. The only course of action would be to tear it down, according to a news release.

Beth Gadbois, who graduated in ’96, said she hoped the building would be repurposed.  She has lived in the Waynedale community most of her life.

“Knowing that I’m not going to drive by and see that [building] every morning makes me sad,” she said. “I’m teaching my kid how to drive in the parking lot at Elmhurst now. He’s like, ‘where am I going to drive now mom?'”

Inside the former high school all the clocks sit at 2:50, when the school bell rang for the very last time. Gadbois said the school reminds her of simpler times.

“You remember where you spent your childhood, what friends you made, what you did,” she said. “Elmhurst was that place for me.”

She was a member of the band and participated in theater and show choir. Gadbois said she also has fond memories of Don Goss, a longtime fine arts teacher, who worked closely with drama club.

“I was so amazed at the number of brilliant students that walked through the door.” said Goss.

Goss taught at Elmhurst High for 56 years but he was a student first. Goss said he graduated at the top of his class in 1949. He considers himself a lifelong Trojan and said more than 10,000 students came through his classroom.

Goss said he often runs into his former students and many tell him they are grateful for his lessons in art and in life.

“[They’ll say], ‘you taught more than just the subject matter. You taught me values that are important and how to do something with your life,'” he said.

Goss fought hard to keep the building that he dedicated almost all of his life to. The decision to tear it down is heartbreaking for him and others.

“I think people who care, will always care,” he said.

Once the building is demolished the land will be used for limestone. A demolition date hasn’t been set. Several students are working with the property owners to organize a final walk-through. Gadbois said it won’t be easy but it’s necessary.

“The walk-through that we did several years ago was hard,” she said. “But now to walk through and it be empty, that’s going to be even harder.”

Daniel Westrick who graduated from Elmhurst in 1995 is working to gather the names and contact information of alumni who graduated after 2006. He also wants names of almuni from the class of 1972.  If you would like to be added to the list, contact him here.

Elmhurst opened in 1929 and had about 900 students when it closed in 2010.