Demolition Begins At Mount de Chantal

WHEELING – Wheeling Hospital officials remain mum about post-demolition plans for the former Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy property.

Work to raze the structure built in 1865 began Monday. And the related paperwork to proceed was finalized the same day, said Frank Wilson, Wheeling Building Codes official. He noted the permit calls for demolition to be complete in 45 days, but if more time is needed the contractor, Greentrack, can file for an extension.

Security guards denied media members access to the site Monday. Guards at the front entrance to neighboring Wheeling Jesuit University did the same. WJU’s rear entrance also was closed to keep people from accessing the demolition site. Plumes of dust could be seen rising from the site during the morning.

Wheeling Hospital spokesman Gregg Warren said the hospital, which purchased the former girls school last August, had no comment about future plans for the site at this time.

Wilson said access to the grounds likely was limited to keep people safe.

“They’re following safety rules. … They can’t have people running around there,” he said.

Since the school’s closing in 2008, various historical groups had voiced concern about the building’s demise, saying they wanted to “save the Mount.” The remaining Sisters of the Visitation, who operated the school for decades, moved last year to the Georgetown Visitation in Washington, D.C. The school, located at 410 Washington Ave., closed because of declining enrollment and increasing operating costs.

Hospital officials conducted a tour of the grounds and some portions of building last summer, pointing out damage inside and out. Two auctions were held last summer to sell items and collectibles not wanted by the nuns. Prior to the auction, a private sale was held to allow alumni to purchase items as well. Hospital officials said they have put the building’s stained glass windows in storage. And a cemetery on the grounds where many nuns are buried is being maintained.