The curious, the nostalgic and the heavy-hearted gathered Thursday afternoon to watch the spectacle.
Like a couple of angry land-bound birds silhouetted against the sun, two mammoth backhoes feasted on a piece of Upper St. Clair history, consigning it to nothing more than memory.
Demolition of the Mayview Barn started pretty much as advertised, right after the outdoor pool at the nearby Community and Recreation Center closed for the season. Heavy equipment brought by contractor Dom Folino Construction lumbered along the barn’s wings on Thursday, tearing asunder the roofs, façades and everything in between.
“It’s been tough on Preston,” said observer Annette Shimer, referring to her husband, who led an effort to save the structure. Unfortunately for him, one of Preston Shimer’s final acts in office was voting against the barn’s destruction while his colleagues authorized it.
When discussion started on a master plan for Boyce Mayview Park, the building served as a potential centerpiece for whatever might transpire. Eventually, the multimillion-dollar CRC rose in the barn’s shadow, and the cost of preserving it was deemed to be prohibitive.
Perhaps the barn, which once served the agricultural needs of Mayview State Hospital and similar facilities in western Pennsylvania, had become an anachronism in the midst of the 21st-century recreational grandeur that has sprung up around it. But perhaps a bit more appreciation of history and a bit less for state-of-the-art amenities might have saved the venerable edifice.
As it stands, the contractor is ending any speculation for the bargain price of just under $80,000, well under what the township budgeted and a small fraction of the estimated cost to reuse the barn.
So if you’re in the area during the next few days, take a look while you still can.
Sure, plenty of photos and reminders of the Mayview Barn will survive. But that’s never quite the same as the real thing.
The writer is a 21-year resident of Upper St. Clair.