A piece of London's hospital history is coming down, but the heritage structure won't be gone forever.

Work began Friday morning on removing stone blocks from the 138-year-old facade of the former South Street Hospital.

And for the next week, crews will slowly be dismantling the iconic art deco facade from the building.

Dipesh Patel, VP of facilities management for the London Health Sciences Centre, says "What's being dismantled is really a portion of the front facade - the first three stories. The stone work that you see is being taken down piece by piece."

It involves removing the stones - which originally came from Alberta - as well as glass panels and lamp posts.

The operation hasn't gone as smoothly as they'd hoped though, Patel says.

"Some of the hitches that we have encountered are, because it's been here for such a long time, and especially when you're taking it apart, some of the stone work has fractured and it has weathered quite a bit."

It's a painstaking process, each limestone block has to be removed very carefully then numbered and prepared for storage.

Within the next 18 months or so the blocks will be removed from storage and the facade will be re-assembled on a south side entrance of LHSC's Commissioners Road location.

"This will add an additional piece, which will make it easy for patient access and for way-finding...definitely the entrance has been around for over 100 years now, people recognize it in the community."

Once the facade is removed, the $10-million demolition project will continue, with an expected completion date in November or December.