The walls of old Jewett Elementary School in Evansdale are coming down. Nearly eight years after the building was closed by the Waterloo Board of Education, a construction crew showed up on Tuesday (May 27, 2014) to begin the work of tearing down a substantial portion of the former learning center.

The walls began crumbling around 8:30 a.m.

The Evansdale Economic Development Corporation (EEDC) is razing the east and west wings of the block-long building to make room for new senior citizen condominiums. The EEDC plans to build five duplex units at the site. Proceeds from the sale of the condos will be used by the group to convert what's left of Jewett School into a new community center.

The one-story condos cost about $190,000 and have 1,250 square-feet of space (not counting the basement), along with an attached double garage. EEDC President Mary Kettwig said the units are being built as each is sold. To date, one condo has been built and is occupied. Construction on the second condo unit has already started.

The condos will be located on the east side of the Jewett property -- two along Collins Avenue and three along Dodge Street, adjacent to the Cedar Valley Nature Trail. Jewett is located on the north end of the site.

The building has been at 600 Collins Avenue for nearly as long as Evansdale has been a city. The town incorporated in 1947. Jewett Elementary was built in 1948. Named for former Black Hawk County Superintendent A.E. Jewett, additions were made to the school in 1950, 1952, 1956 and 1969.

Jewett was a vital part of the Evansdale community for 59 years. Jewett closed in 2007 when the new Poyner Elementary School opened a few blocks away.

Once the partial demolition is complete and the money is raised, Kettwig said the EEDC will focus on converting what's left of the Jewett School building into a community center. The existing gym will be refurbished and used as a walking, exercise and recreation area, where large receptions and banquets could be held. The kitchen would be updated and the school's former offices and library would be renovated into meeting rooms.

According to Kettwig, Jewett's south wing also will eventually be demolished.

Kettwig, who was at the site when crews began their work on Tuesday, said there is no timetable for when the school demolition and community center project will be complete. It will depend on when the funding is available.