Wooster Inn collapses, university seeks public input for site

WOOSTER – The Hostel Wooster is not anymore.

Jerri Lynn Baxstrom wanted to say goodbye on Monday before it was completely torn down.

“I got married there on June 11, 1994,” Baxstrom said from his car parked on East Wayne Street. “That was before they had a tent for that, so we rented a tent and had the reception in the elders hall.”

Learn more about the hostel:The Wooster Inn is about to disappear. Some residents hope to reverse the college’s decision

As she spoke, the yellow excavator’s metal shovel crashed into the second floor near the front door, dropping large amounts of debris.

Rain and snow made the somber occasion all the more bleak for spectators who parked along Wayne and Gasche streets.

By the afternoon of April 18, the Wooster Inn was reduced to rubble. The cleanup will begin on Wednesday, April 20, according to the College of Wooster.

A public Zoom event will be held on Thursday, April 21, where residents can ask questions and provide feedback on the property.

“It looks like a big loss for the Wooster community”

Jerri Lynn Baxstrom watched crews tear down the Wooster Inn on Monday, April 18.  She married at the Wooster Inn in 1994 and attended many school events in the building.

Baxstrom, a local resident, taught French at the College of Wooster. The Wooster Inn has hosted many French department and school events as well as family events.

She remembers staying on the patio drinking and chatting with friends.

Historical structure:College of Wooster to demolish iconic hostel, built in 1958, next month

“He has a lot of memories,” said Baxstrom, who lives near the now-demolished hostel. “It feels like a great loss to the Wooster community as it was a connection between the college and the community.”

Before the trees and signs were removed from the property, she and her husband took photos of the inn and compared them to their wedding photos.

“I’m hyper sentimental, I guess,” she said.

Souvenirs, auctions and rescue

It took crews a few hours on Monday to demolish the Wooster Inn.

Although the Wooster Inn is gone, much of its furniture, decor, and artifacts kept on the property survive the building.

Most of his furniture and decoration were auctioned online with RES Auction Services, said Melissa Anderson, director of communications and marketing for the College of Wooster.

Other valuable and historic items were removed in February when the demolition decision was made, she said.

“(They have been) transferred to college archives; other items bearing the Wooster Inn insignia are in storage by our alumni office for potential memorabilia,” Anderson said.

These memories may be of interest to some on campus and in the community. She said any plans to distribute these items would be made public if the college decided to go in that direction.

Many of the materials from its structure were salvaged for the sum of nearly $25,000 by volunteers from Habitat for Humanity of Wayne County. That’s about a quarter of the cost of a new Habitat home, Anderson said.

Over the course of five days, volunteers with habitat logged 333 hours.

Asbestos and Utilities Maintenance

Built and opened in the late 1950s, much of the Wooster Inn’s structure was dated and did not meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

According to the college, major cleanup to remove the asbestos was needed, along with groundwater and sewer repairs and new air conditioning, ventilation, elevator and fire suppression systems.

Repairs were estimated at more than $4 million based on pre-pandemic prices and did not include cosmetic renovations, College of Wooster spokespersons said. told the Daily Record.

“Our repeated efforts to find a financially viable solution or a hotel management company willing to undertake this work and expense as an operating partner have unfortunately not been successful,” Anderson said.

Schedule of public meetings for April 21 to discuss the future of the property

As news of the demolition and plans for the property spread, nearby residents voiced their disapproval at a recent Wooster Planning Commission meeting.

According to the college and preliminary development plans, 12 tennis courts will be built with a 73-space parking lot with two traffic entrances.

If approved in its current form, the facility will not be open at night and will be located nearly 35 feet from East Wayne Street.

To discuss future plans for the site and receive public feedback, the college will hold a Zoom planning meeting at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 21, according to a letter distributed to nearby residents.

The meeting will review draft plans and provide a forum for reflection and suggestions regarding landscaping and “other matters,” the letter read.

Questions can be submitted in advance to be addressed at the meeting, but ideas, questions and suggestions are welcome at the meeting, according to the letter.

“We would very much like your input, as we know this site has long been important to the campus and the city,” the letter reads.

To register for the Zoom meeting or submit a comment in advance, visit https://tinyurl.com/innlandscaping.

Contact Bryce by email at [email protected]

On Twitter: @Bryce_Buyakie