ROCKLAND, Maine — Demolition of a structure that served as an elementary school here for 56 years began this week.

Ferraiolo Construction started leveling the former MacDougal School on Monday and demolition continued Friday. The facility hasn’t been used as a school for two years.

The 24,000-square-foot structure was built because of the efforts of the Parents, Teachers Association that formed after World War II in Rockland, according to the Rockland history book titled “Shore Village Story.” The group pushed for the community to spend more money on schools in the community.

The result was the construction of the South School in 1949 and the North School (later renamed MacDougal School) in September 1954. The North School for decades served as a kindergarten through fifth grade school for families who lived in the north end of the city.

In 1995, the school was renamed the MacDougal School in honor of Doris Coltart MacDougal who served as the school’s first principal and remained there until her retirement in 1972.

In 1996, the school board reorganized the elementary schools in Rockland and MacDougal became a school for all city children who attended kindergarten through second grade.

The school first faced closure in 2006 when tests showed poor air quality which was linked to an old boiler and a deteriorating heating system. The school was closed for two weeks and the district spent nearly $200,000 to repair the heating system.

The board then commissioned a study in early 2009 which estimated that the cost of making additional needed repairs to the building would be $2.5 million. The board determined that this was too much to spend, particularly with declining enrollment.

Rockland residents voted in February 2010 by a 263-117 tally to close the school. The district then turned the school and its 4 acres over to the city of Rockland. Playground equipment at that school was relocated to the remaining elementary school — the South School.

The city council held numerous meetings about what to do with the property without success.

Demolition is expected to be completed by Wednesday.

A plaque that was placed on the building when it was renamed MacDougal School was taken down this week and is in the possession of Regional School Unit 13.