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St. Peter Chanel Catholic High School in Bedford will be torn down on Wednesday

The school was originally created in 1956 to help deal with overcrowding in other diocesan high schools in the area.
Credit: Bruce Rusin

BEDFORD, Ohio — St. Peter Chanel Catholic High School is about to officially be relegated to the history books, as the city says the building will be demolished on Wednesday by the Cuyahoga Land Bank. 

The school, located on Northfield Road, was founded in the late 1950s by the Marist Fathers but permanently closed its doors to students in 2013. Officials said in a press release that demolition of the 53-year-old building will take place over several days based on its size, which is just over 166,000 square feet. 

"St. Peter Chanel has been a staple not only in the City of Bedford, but to Northeast Ohio for decades," Bedford City Manager Mike Mallis wrote. "The City of Bedford is forever grateful for Chanel's proud history, the dedicated Alumni Association, and all of those who shared in the Chanel experience and call themselves Firebirds." 

Multiple notable Northeast Ohioans graduated from Chanel, including Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith and auto dealer Tom Ganley. The Firebirds football team also made headlines for its remarkable turnaround: After a 50-plus-game losing streak in the early 1990s, the team would win the OHSAA Division V state championship in 2001.

In 2008, Chanel became the source of controversy after teacher Steve Majercik pleaded guilty to charges of child pornography and having sex with a student, earning him 10 years in jail. It symbolized a decline of the once proud institution, and in 2012 the Diocese of Cleveland announced the building would be closed at the end of the school year due to declining enrollment and rising financial burdens.

The demolition is estimated to cost more than $1.7 million, which is being paid for by the Bedford City School District (which currently owns the building) along with the city and the land bank. The district plans to use the space for future projects.