From his room at the Glendale Home, resident Charlie Williams has a top-notch view of what used to be a morgue.
“And right past the morgue was the laundry room,” he recalled, pointing toward a massive brick building right outside his window.
He’s expecting the scenery to improve dramatically any time now.
Wednesday morning, he watched heavy equipment rip at the far left side of the building. Constructed in 1936, it was part of the county-owned nursing home until 2014.
Residents moved into a brand-new, 200-bed skilled nursing facility at the front of the property June 2.
“They say it’s gonna have fields out there, with trees and a parking lot,” Williams said, surveying the scene.
Cristo Demolition of Albany began dismantling the complex in October. Work is expected to be completed by the end of January.
A Glendale resident for 10 years, Williams said he’s not feeling all that sentimental about seeing the old place getting ripped down. He likes his new private room.
“It’s lighter and the shower room is the same size as the beauty shop,” he said, laughing at the comparison.
When the weather was nicer, resident Albert Kausch could be found outside, monitoring the demolition process from the parking lot. Now he watches from whatever window has the best view.
“It’s bringing a big difference,” he said.
He politely called the old facility “nice and simple,” but admitted he wouldn’t miss it.
Both Williams and Kausch lived in Building C, which was the first to come down. Built in 1979, it was the newest structure in the complex.
Building B, built in 1965, was razed next, excluding one portion that will remain standing until National Grid removes transformers housed there.
Now, demolition equipment is eating away at Building A. The low rumble of the work draws staff and residents to the windows to watch.
“There’s a lot of long-term employees here, people who have been here 30, 40 years, so they know that building. As much as they wanted to see the new facility come and everything, it’s sad, because they spent most of their lives there,” said LeVern “Corky” Mosier, Glendale’s facilities supervisor.
Brian Gazzillo has been doing maintenance at Glendale for 30 years. He said he has mixed emotions about watching a place he knows so well get torn down.
“There’s a lot of memories in that building, but I think this is a much better building for everybody involved,” he said.
The old facility had major maintenance problems, especially toward the end.
“The last seven, eight years, sewer lines were backing up,” he explained. “Things were just falling apart. It was time to go. There was no saving that building.”
Even though they’re now working in a state-of-the-art structure, the maintenance crew is busier than ever. They have an air conditioning system to take care of — something the old facility lacked — and new technology to learn.
“We went from the 1960s — because that’s the last time [the old facility] was really updated — to up-to-date in two days,” Gazzillo said.
Just before Building A started coming down, he had a chance to walk through it one last time.
“It was dark, it was cold and there was ice on the ground in there. The roof was down,” he recalled.
“It used to be fun there. Remember way back when?” he asked activities director Tracie Denny, who started working at Glendale shortly after he did. “We had a real good time in there. There was a million of us.”
“There were 528 beds and probably the same amount of staff,” Denny recalled.
As a memento of times past, Gazzillo has retrieved one brick from each of the fallen buildings.
“I’ve been there since I was 16, so I had a lot of years over there,” he said.