Demolition of three buildings on the Western Carolina University campus, including the structure that had served as headquarters for the University Club for more than 15 years, will get under way later this year.
The WCU Board of Trustees unanimously approved the demolition of the three on-campus buildings and a dilapidated cottage at the Highlands Biological Station, an interinstitutional center of the University of North Carolina system administered by WCU. The action came during the board’s quarterly meeting Friday, June 8.
In addition to the Jenkins House, the longtime gathering space for faculty and staff members of the U-Club until it was damaged by a fallen tree during a thunderstorm last June, also slated for the wrecking ball are the Claxton House and the old Telephone Exchange Building. All three are located on the historic “hill area” of the WCU campus.
The Jenkins House, constructed in 1942, consists of 3,872 square feet of interior space, plus a detached garage. Its roof was crushed by a large pine that fell during a mid-June thunderstorm last year that
snapped trees and utility lines, leaving more than 9,000 without power in Jackson County.
Since the incident, U-Club meetings have been held at a variety of locations, including restaurants, churches and individual members’ homes.
The Claxton House, built in 1958, has been vacant since 2003 because of accessibility and safety issues. The 1,800-square-foot structure has been used for storage.
The Telephone Exchange Building, constructed in 1946, has not been in use for about 30 years. The roof on the 338-square-foot building has collapsed, presenting health and safety concerns.
The university will allow local departments to use the demolition of the Jenkins and Claxton structures for practice and training exercises after asbestos abatement work is completed.
At the Highlands Biological Station, the Illgess Cottage, a 14-bed dorm built in 1941, has been out of service since the fall of 2005. Following demolition of the cottage, future plans for the building site call for construction of a new residence facility, which meets current accessibility standards, when funding becomes available.
By Bill Studenc