Demolition under way for Riverside Hospital

  • CTY-riverside23p-13

    The demolition of the vacant Riverside Hospital begins in Toledo on August 22, 2018. The original brick structure was built in 1887 as a home for unwed mothers.

    The Blade/Jetta Fraser
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  • At 8:33 a.m. the building began to crumble.

    The wrecking ball crashed into it, shattering a windowpane.

    It was the third blow sustained by the former Riverside Hospital that broke glass Wednesday morning. The first two merely wounded the brick building on Summit Street.

    “They need a bigger ball,” an onlooker shouted as the wrecking ball plowed into the building.

    Toledo Public Schools agreed last year to tear down the long-vacant former Riverside Hospital. The building’s end comes after the former hospital, which faces Huron Street near I-280, served Toledo for 119 years.

    The district bought the site in 2004 for $750,000 and renovated one of the existing structures on the property to house its central administrative offices.

    Board members this summer agreed to pay $998,500 to Holland-based Klumm Brothers Landscaping, the lowest bidder, to demolish the building.

    The multi-story structure proved to be a formidable opponent Wednesday morning. But blow-by-blow, the demolition team weakened the structure.

    The wrecking ball swayed in the air, slow and steady, needing to generate enough leverage to inflict damage.




    Over and over again, it relentlessly collided with the structure, taking it apart brick-by-brick.

    In October, 1883, what would become Riverside Hospital opened.

    Initially, it was a facility for unwed mothers called The Retreat, A Home for Friendless Girls.

    In July, 1884, the first birth was recorded there, but the child “showed little signs of life and at half past nine it died,” according to a Blade article written at the time of the hospital's centennial.

    The Retreat moved to a house at Buckeye and Ontario streets and then to the 500 block of Indiana Avenue. In 1890, it settled at the location of Wednesday’s demolition.

    A 75-bed facility was built in 1920. More construction occurred over the years, along with name changes, and the hospital admitted its first male patient in 1932.

    In 1945, the facility took the name Riverside Hospital. The 271 bed-hospital shuttered its doors in 2002.

    Once demolished, the property is expected to become a green space, a TPS spokesman said.

    On Wednesday, the demolition persisted throughout the day. The rubble tumbled to the ground, and the dust evaporated into the morning sky leaving a trail of memories behind.

    Toledoans stopped by the hospital site to say their final goodbyes.

    For a moment, Joyce Fry stood motionless, as she watched her former workplace perish.

    The only movement came from a reflection in her phone showing the swinging wrecking ball rupturing a piece of her past. She graduated from Riverside's nursing program in 1965 and worked at the hospital for 35 years.

    "It's a sad day," she said.

    The demolition team worked until 5 p.m. But it’ll take more than one day to tear down a building with so much history. It’s actually expected to take five more months, a Klumm Brothers representative said.

    Until then, the battle continues.

    Contact Javonte Anderson at janderson@theblade.com419-724-6065, or on Twitter @JavonteA.