BRADFORD, Pa. – Demolition of the former Bradford Central Christian High/St. Bernard Elementary School will begin next week.
The former school, its property and playing field are owned by the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, which bought the building in 2020 after the plans of developer Goldenwest Group LLC fell through.
Bob Cummins Construction will perform the demolition, which is expected to last several months. Neighbors can expect increased truck traffic and noise during the day. Previously, the university had asbestos removed. Utilities will be turned off and any remaining hazardous materials removed before demolition begins.
Parts of the building – such as scrap metal and concrete – will be recycled. Once the site has been cleared, the university plans to repave the circular drive and another road to provide parking for the practice field on the property. In the short term, part of the site will be used for a community garden. University officials will continue to assess the best use of the property going forward.
In 2018, the university considered buying the property directly from St. Bernard Parish and using the facility to house its engineering and information technology programs. However, architects hired by the university determined that the total estimated cost to renovate St. Bernard School to meet the university’s program needs as well as all building code requirements would exceed $34.1 million. By contrast, the George B. Duke Engineering and Information Technologies Building, which opened in January, cost $24.5 million to build.
In 2019, the Catholic Diocese of Erie closed what was then St. Bernard Elementary School. A year later the university bought the building from Goldenwest, which had hoped to renovate the building.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the university made the former school available as a site for community vaccination clinics.
The university also collaborated with alumni of the Bradford Central Christian High School to remove trophies, trophy cases, yearbooks and other historical and sentimental items for inclusion in a small museum.
Other items, such as desks, bookshelves and filing cabinets, were donated to members of the community.
Pitt-Bradford is also raising money toward a Bradford Central Christian/St. Bernard Legacy Scholarship Fund to supply scholarships for Pitt-Bradford students in need and honor the schools’ legacies.