Saturday, July 24, 2010

"It's gone, Jim."

Early last year on a clear, freezing February night and morning a fire raged in the center of Boone, my hometown. It consumed two buildings and damaged another. One person was killed in their upstairs apartment, where the fire started.

News story and video

The buildings were beyond repair.

Destruction of the buildings began on July 5 of this year. The two fire damaged buildings were destroyed first. While from the early 20th century, they were not of architectural importance: they were somewhat rundown and been changed so much that I considered them to be a bit of an eyesore.

However, today they tore down the important Mason/Meyers building. The photo below is from the very early 20th century, the Meyers building standing on the left side with the tower and cupola:

It housed businesses throughout the building (including a bank, jewelers and men's clothing store) until about the 1950s/1960s when the upper floors were made into apartments.

There's some family history in this building; my great-grandpa owned it from the early 1940s to the 1960s. During WW2 he donated the cupola to the war effort. Meyers was a men's clothing store in the middle of the century and I own a fedora and tie that were originally from Meyers.

Unfortunately the latest owner pretty much abondoned the building and let it rot, unbeknownst to the city and most folks who live here. Had he kept it up it probably would not have to have been torn down as the fire didn't do any real damage to the structure, though there was some smoke damage.

Here are some photos from today. Note the pink granite.

Unhappy me:

Here is a short news story and photos from inside a few months before it was torn down.

Thankfully my great-great grandpa's old haberdashery a couple buildings down the block survived untouched and is still standing. Boone has had bad luck when it comes to losing historical architecture, both to fires and the desire of the city. It lost it's big fancy downtown hotel to fire back in the '60s and several businesses were lost to fire some time ago on the same block as the Meyers building. At least three major fires within the last 100 years, talk about a streak of bad luck.

The turn of the century railroad station as well as the fancy old post office were both torn down by the city in favor of more modern construction. We're kicking ourselves now.

Hate to see good architecture go down the drain.


Marilyn said...

What a shame! People are such pigs, aren't they? I'll bet you'll see some "development" on that block soon, what with all the mysterious fires. . . .

Brooksie said...

So sad to see the nice old buildings like that go. I have been to Boone a few years ago and I thought it was a cool town and would like to go back sometime.

SElder1958 said...

Very sorry to hear about the demolition of the Mason/Meyers building. We preservationsists call that "demolition by neglect" and it's illegal in many cities, but still happens all the time when the land becomes more valuable than the structure. One can only hope that something worthy of the space is erected, but too often it's another brown box of a CVS or Rite-Aid pharmacy.


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