COLONIAL HEIGHTS, VA (WWBT) – After much discussion and debate, demolition crews began tearing down the old historic Colonial Heights Baptist Church.
For years, a group of community members fought to keep the church standing. Now, a new courthouse will replace the structure.
After standing strong for nearly 90 years the structure crumbled under pressure. It's a reality Kirk Thibault and others in the community fought against.
"It's sad because a lot of people were married here -- went to church here-- there's a lot of history here," said Thibault.
And with every brick that tumbles Thibault says history is being erased.
"By having your history around it gives you a warmer city. It really does, it means stability," said Thibault.
The demolition paves the way for a new courthouse to be built on the site which the city purchased nearly 6 years ago.
"The city has done what's in the best interest of the majority of the citizens in the city itself," said Mayor Scott Davis.
City leaders say the current courthouse is small, outdated, and unsafe. At one point there was talk of renovating the historic church but a study revealed that option would be costly.
"If we'd kept any piece of this it was estimated to cost at least a million more dollars to keep as part of a new courthouse than to tear it down and build a new courthouse, " said Davis.
Building a new structure will cost just over $18 million. Some neighbors worry that commercial businesses will pop up on the 5 acre property near the new courthouse -- which would increase traffic.
"At this point there is no discussion of commercial our main focus is the courthouse," said Davis.
So it's out with the old and in with the new. It will take crews about a week to demolish the entire structure.
Construction on the new courthouse is expected to begin early next year. The project is slated to be finished by the summer of 2013.