Crews at WMU begin demolition work at East Hall

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Crews at Western Michigan University are in the thick of demolishing a historic campus building.

The demolition started Monday, and the south wing of East Hall, which used to house art studios and galleries, is all coming down.

The demolition has been controversial from the start, with the university maintaining that the building was simply too expensive to maintain.

The wings of East Hall date back to 1908 and 1909, and were too costly to renovate.

Meanwhile, neighbors, former students, and history buffs couldn't bear to see the historic buildings go.

"A lot of people have been trying to make it clear that we want to preserve the past and use that as the foundation for the future," said neighbor Laura Livingston-McNelis. "If you just erase things then you simply don't have them anymore, so I think it's a big mistake."

The university will save the core of East Hall, which will eventually be rebuilt into a new alumni center--at the cost of $21 million.

It's set to open in the fall of 2015.

Before any of that can begin though, demolition crews need to finish tearing down both wings of the building.

The demolition work is expected to be finished sometime next month.