Raleigh, N.C. — Work crews were out early Saturday to begin tearing down a landmark building on North Carolina State University's campus.
Riddick Field House, which was built in 1936, was once the focal point of N.C. State football, along with adjacent Riddick Field. That ended when Carter-Finley Stadium opened in the 1960s.
Riddick Field was paved over years ago, and the bleachers where football fans once sat were later dismantled.
On Saturday, demolition crews brought out wrecking balls and other equipment to begin leveling the field house, which officials have said stands in the way of future development of the eastern end of the main campus.
Charles Hinant, who came from Durham Saturday to watch the demolition, said he remembers bringing his wife to games at Riddick Field when he was a student at N.C. State in the early 1940s.
"They had no facilities in there. And it was so hot," Hinant, 90, said of the field house. "At halftime, the players wouldn't even go in there. It was hot, so they would just lay in the grass."
University architect Lisa Johnson said Wednesday that the demolition will allow the school to build a two-level parking deck covered by a plaza and academic buildings where the field once existed.
Officials said last week that Riddick Field House obscured sight lines at the end of a pedestrian tunnel under the railroad tracks that split the campus, presenting an unsafe condition. The building was also in the path of the railroad right-of-way and a new thoroughfare being studied to reduce traffic on Stinson Drive and Yarborough Drive.
Johnson said the building also blocked the potential expansion of the railroad tracks to carry a future light-rail line through campus.
"It's progress and it's change, so I guess it's something we all have to accept," Donna Lott, an alum, said. "It is still a little sad to see it go."
Despite not being "particularly impressive" in terms of architecture, university officials did come up with ways to honor the nearly 80 years of athletic history represented by the building, Johnson said.
Officials placed a plaque on Stinson Drive honoring the stadium, and memorabilia from the field house – including the old block S emblem on the outside – was removed prior to Saturday's demolition.
Once the parking deck and plaza are up, officials plan to mark the 50-yard line of Riddick Stadium as another reminder of what used to stand there.
Christopher Lawing, a student who started an online petition to save the building, said the efforts made to remember its history make a difference.
"They do have a plaque up on Simpson Drive that commemorates the area," he said. "There will be a remnant of it, but it won't be the building."