The landscape of Clay Street in Tiffin is changing.
Saturday and Sunday, local firefighters burned down a Tiffin University-owned house as part of live-burn training. In a few weeks, TU is to break ground for a new residence hall on the site.
The two-and-a-half-story duplex at 192 Clay St. had been turned into a residence hall. Sunday, firefighters allowed the house to burn to the ground.
Sharon Haver, a Tiffin resident who lived in the house during her childhood, watched as it burned.
"So many memories," she said.
She said seeing the fire brought tears to her eyes and the eyes of family members who gathered.
Haver, who was raised by her aunt and uncle, Betty and Hal Bean, lived in the Clay Street home for about the first 10 years of her life until she moved in 1958.
She recalled sitting on the front porch on a glider and never locking the doors of the sturdy, old house with hardwood floors. She learned to ride a bicycle in the alley next to the house.
"My cousin Carol was born in that upstairs bedroom," she said.
Norma Riepenhoff of Miller City and her brother, Ed Schauder of Bellevue, had lived in the other side of the duplex. They returned to Tiffin to see the house where they had lived for about 20 years burn and said it was sad to see the fire. Riepenhoff said she had nothing but good times in the house.
"We knew everybody in this whole neighborhood," Haver said.
Construction of a new residence hall on the site is to be completed in less than a year.
TU is to build the 25,000-square-foot residence hall in response to its growing enrollment.
President Paul Marion said groundbreaking probably will occur within the next couple of weeks, and the building is to be ready for occupancy in time for next school year.
The pod-style residence hall is to have 103 beds and air conditioning and face Clay Street, according to a release from TU.
Marion said cost of the project is about $5 million, and the building is to be constructed in partnership with University Housing Solutions under the same financial arrangement used to build TU's new apartments. University Housing Solutions pays for construction, TU pays a monthly fee for 20 years and the building then is given to TU, he said.
The building is to house sophomores.
"We see it as a nice transition from the more traditional dormitory-style housing that the freshmen typically live in to the apartment-style that the juniors and seniors live in," he said.
Burning down the duplex enabled about 45 city and county firefighters to participate in training exercises.
Chief Bill Ennis of Tiffin Fire and Rescue said firefighters did attic and second-floor training Saturday.
Sunday, they did more second-floor training and also worked in the basement.
Ennis said the exercise is beneficial because it saves TU money in demolition costs, and the only way the fire department could get the same type of training would be to travel to Columbus, Milan or Oregon.
Even then, the fire department would be limited to taking eight to 10 people and would have to pay about $1,000 a day to use a facility.