LOWELL | The sound of a jackhammer cut through the frigid air early Saturday morning as volunteers from the local Masonic lodge worked to remove the cornerstone from the old Lowell Middle School.
More than 30 people gathered to watch members of Colfax Masonic Lodge 378 remove the cornerstone from the building at 200 W. Oakley Ave.
The same lodge placed the cornerstone on the building in 1928. The building, constructed in 1914, is slated for demolition this spring if an agreement cannot be reached for it to be used in another capacity.
After about 45 minutes of work, the cornerstone was removed from the old school and placed in a pickup truck.
Budd Ballou, who helped spearhead the project, said a time capsule was discovered inside the cornerstone as originally hoped. The capsule will not be opened until a date can be set so officials from the Tri-Creek School Corp. and the grand master of the Masonic lodge can attend.
Ballou was born and raised in Lowell and graduated from the building when it was the old Lowell High School in 1958.
"I've walked through the building hoping they could save it," Ballou said.
Masons at Saturday's event said there is a cornerstone on the old grade school on Main Street they are hoping to remove as well.
"We want to make a monument at the Masonic lodge with them, which will be great," Ballou said.
Lon Childress, president of the Tri-Creek board, said the cornerstone removal bridges the gap between the old and the new.
"We're going to take the limestone from the top (of the old building) and the arch in front of the door and put it in the new school," Childress said. "We're going to make a capsule and put it in the new site as well."
Nicole Dumbsky, 15, was in the last class to graduate from the school.
"I went here all three years for middle school and closing the school was a big thing," Dumbsky said. "Taking out the time capsule is exciting."
Dennis Keithley graduated from Lowell High in 1964 and taught in the building for 34 years in the room right above the cornerstone.
"I do hope some accommodations can be made and some organization can make use of it without it being demolished," Keithley said. "I was comfortable here for 34 years."
Scott Weinkauff is hoping his congregation can put the building to good use. He is pastor at Lowell First Assembly of God Church, which is discussing taking over the building with Tri Creek officials.
"We're still trying to find a real solution that will work for the school, community and us," Weinkauff said.
He said the nostalgia surrounding the building would not be lost on his congregation, many of whom attended school there.
"If it does go through and we are able to acquire the property, we realize the importance of the history as well," he said.