By Jeff Vorva
Daily Southtown | Jan 11
Some Luther South High School graduates are looking for 20 minutes to enter the their old school to grab a few trophies and other keepsakes before it is demolished.
Pete’s Fresh Market, which bought the property at 87th Street and Kedzie Avenue in the fall, is citing safety reasons for not allowing anyone in the 70-year-old building, which has been closed since 2014.
Oak Lawn’s Charlie Norvil and Keith Vanselow, who both graduated in 1969, said they hope to retrieve sports trophies and other memorabilia. Norvil said he was a little nervous last week when he saw a bulldozer on the property.
Norvil is interested in retrieving a trophy that was made in honor of coach Robert Dinkmeyer to recognize top athletes each year. Dinkmeyer, a Palos Heights resident who died in late November, was a coach at the school for 19 years and helped start the athletic program.
“People had a chance to get the trophies earlier but there are still a lot left,” Norvil said. “Two or three years ago, I saw the Dinkmeyer trophy there, but I thought somebody else might take it. Then he passed away and I would like to go back and get it for his family.”
Vanselow said he was looking to retrieve yearbooks and other books.
Norvil contacted representatives from Pete’s, and Kris Murdock, corporate customer service manager, responded in an email, saying “Unfortunately it is not safe for anyone to go into the school, including us. I apologize. We are unable to grant these requests for safety reasons.”
Norvil said he would not be afraid to go in and retrieve the items.
“I would go in and get the stuff. Sure. Absolutely,” he said. “Get a truck. Haul it out and, boom, we’re out in 20 minutes and it’s done.”
It’s not clear when the building will be demolished. Murdock said that Pete’s had no comment on the matter. Timothy Rybicki, at attorney for the grocery chain, said the legal office is not involved with construction activities, and 18th Ward Ald. Derrick Curtis did not respond to requests for comment.
The Rev. Joel Dietrich, associate pastor at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Lincoln, Nebraska and former pastor at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Beecher, said he is interested in saving one of the two cornerstones of the building for his mother, Marlene, who lives in Mokena. There is a time capsule in one of cornerstones that Marlene had a hand in putting together.
He is also interested in securing the metal cross that is on the building for the congregation at St. Paul Lutheran Church and School in Chicago. He said alumni have expressed interest in securing bricks from the building.
Dietrich said he has been in contact with Pete’s officials and its legal council but said he was not getting anywhere.
“I’m at a loss for words,” Dietrich said. “While I’m not an engineer, I cannot understand how retrieving the cornerstone or cross attached on the outside wall would cause a safety issue.”
Dietrich graduated from the school in 1996 and said he had several family members attend or work at the school.
The school opened in 1951 and there was an addition to house the gymnasium and other rooms in 1955.
Track Olympian Mike Conley and rappers Common and Naledge are graduates.
Ald. Curtis announced that Pete’s bought the Ashburn neighborhood property during a “Chicago Tonight” segment on WTTW in October. He said he hoped it would open in two years. The Greater Ashburn Development Association said Pete’s paid $2.2 million for the property.
Pete’s Fresh Market has 16 stores in the Chicago area with locations planned for Matteson, Orland Park, Oak Park, Tinley Park, New Lenox and Oak Lawn, according to the company’s website. The Ashburn location is not listed.
The website also said, “We will be designing, constructing, and then opening one store at a time.”
Original article: chicagotribune.com