For the past few months, crews have been working to deconstruct the original Middle Tennessee Medical Center near downtown Murfreesboro.
Demolition crews work to remove the pedestrin bridge over Bell Street. (Courtesy WGNS)
Only recently have residents seen changes to the exterior of the hospital, as most of work up to this point has been inside the buildings.
Two significant milestones were reached within the past couple of weeks, as crews demolished the outer walls of the original, 83-year-old hospital and removed the crosswalk that extended from MTMC’s main building to its Bell Street annex.
“It was interesting when that structure was put in place,” MTMC president and CEO Gordon Ferguson said of the crosswalk. “They fabricated the steel and then raised it, so that’s basically the same way they had to remove it, with the steel intact.”
He said the entire process went on without incident and expressed appreciation to the Murfreesboro Police Department and city officials for coordinating the process of temporarily closing streets while the crosswalk was dismantled.
“So things are moving along according to the plan,” Ferguson continued. “The next big milestone will be, again, the exterior demolition. They’ll go to the B building next, which is the building that, for the most part, goes along Bell Street on the hospital side.”
But neighbors and passers-by shouldn’t expect to hear blasting and see each floor collapse onto the one below it.
Hollywood can keep its extravagant demolitions – crews will be using heavy machinery to knock down the structure, mainly because the building isn’t tall enough to warrant a flashy explosion.
While residents must say goodbye to a familiar skyline on North Highland Avenue, it is possible for them to take a piece of it home.
MTMC has 500 bricks from the original hospital that can be purchased, according to spokeswoman Angie Boyd-Chambers.
“We also have crosses from the patient rooms that are available for purchase,” she said. “Both include a plaque indicating they are from the original Rutherford Hospital.”
The cost for either item is $25, which will benefit the MTMC Foundation.
This idea of reclamation has been prominent throughout the closure and subsequent demolition of the hospital, following the opening of the new MTMC on Medical Center Parkway last October.
Much of the interior furnishings and equipment were redistributed to a number of nonprofit organizations, as well as centers within the St. Thomas health network, Ferguson explained.
“The contract with this (construction) company was based on them being able to salvage a lot of the materials,” he added.
Ferguson said the company calculated how much of and which items could be salvaged or resold. This estimate was then figured into the overall cost of the demolition project.
(De)construction was expected to continue through the end of this year, but hospital officials believe it may be finished shortly before then.
Once all the structures are razed, the end result will be a field of roughly 9.5 acres. Since the decision to disassemble the hospital, Ferguson said the property has had more prospective buyers.