There's a backhoe in the cafeteria of Lewis and Clark Elementary School. The library exists only in memory and the gym is just a foundation.

The beloved school, which was built in 1927 and added to throughout the following decades, is being demolished. The job is expected to be completed July 30.

The oldest part of the school is being torn down this week by Custom Excavating, which is salvaging some of the wood for resale, owner Dean Larson said.

Behind the rubble, workmen busy themselves completing the new school. It will open in September as the school children find a parking lot and fields where the old school once was.

The new school cost $5.7 million for construction and is part of a $21.5 million bond, which voters approved in 2001.

Demolition of the old building is part of the $7 million "soft-costs," which include building permits, drainage systems, architect and engineer fees, among other things.

Lewis and Clark staff removed desks and equipment from the old school and Custom Excavating workers removed the cabinets. Here and there, a mural is still visible, although its artistic vision slightly altered with a chunk of plaster missing from a "mountain hillside." A soap dispenser still hangs from the tile of a former bathroom but toilets or sinks have been removed.

Most of the school's entrails and skeleton have been sorted into piles. The wood, concrete, aluminum, plastic and steel will be recycled, Larson said. Most of the wood, except for salvageable beams, will be ground into wood chips and concrete will be ground into gravel, he said. Some day, people could sprinkle a part of Lewis and Clark on their lawn or hear its former facade crunching below car tires.

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