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Historic building in danger of collapse

Posted on June 21, 2022

Updated on June 22, 2022

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Residents of the Nash Street Lofts stand near an area closed by caution tape at 221-225 Nash St. E. where the roof has collapsed. The building will be partially demolished Tuesday.

Drew C. Wilson | Times

Residents of the Nash Street Lofts stand near an area closed by caution tape at 221-225 Nash St. E. where the roof has collapsed. The building will be partially demolished Tuesday.

A crew from D.H. Griffin prepares to demolish a patially collapsed building at 221-225 Nash St. E. in downtown Wilson.

Drew C. Wilson | Times

A crew from D.H. Griffin prepares to demolish a patially collapsed building at 221-225 Nash St. E. in downtown Wilson.

Partial demolition of the building at 221-225 Nash St. E. was slated to begin Tuesday after major structural issues including the collapse of the building’s roof. The structure’s front and back brick walls are bowing inward.

Drew C. Wilson | Times

Partial demolition of the building at 221-225 Nash St. E. was slated to begin Tuesday after major structural issues including the collapse of the building’s roof. The structure’s front and back brick walls are bowing inward.

This building at 221-225 Nash St. E. will be partially demolished Tuesday after the roof fell in and the front and back brick walls have bowed inward.

Drew C. Wilson | Times

This building at 221-225 Nash St. E. will be partially demolished Tuesday after the roof fell in and the front and back brick walls have bowed inward.

Residents of the Nash Street Lofts stand near an area closed by caution tape at 221-225 Nash St. E. where the roof has collapsed. The building will be partially demolished Tuesday.

Drew C. Wilson | Times

Residents of the Nash Street Lofts stand near an area closed by caution tape at 221-225 Nash St. E. where the roof has collapsed. The building will be partially demolished Tuesday.

A crew from D.H. Griffin prepares to demolish a patially collapsed building at 221-225 Nash St. E. in downtown Wilson.

Drew C. Wilson | Times

A crew from D.H. Griffin prepares to demolish a patially collapsed building at 221-225 Nash St. E. in downtown Wilson.

A crew from D.H. Griffin prepares to demolish a patially collapsed building at 221-225 Nash St. E. in downtown Wilson.
Partial demolition of the building at 221-225 Nash St. E. was slated to begin Tuesday after major structural issues including the collapse of the building’s roof. The structure’s front and back brick walls are bowing inward.
This building at 221-225 Nash St. E. will be partially demolished Tuesday after the roof fell in and the front and back brick walls have bowed inward.
Residents of the Nash Street Lofts stand near an area closed by caution tape at 221-225 Nash St. E. where the roof has collapsed. The building will be partially demolished Tuesday.

dwilson@wilsontimes.com | 252-265-7818

Note: This story was published online before the building's facade fell during demolition work. An update is available here: Building razed after facade falls

Partial demolition is set to begin Tuesday afternoon on one of Wilson’s oldest buildings after the roof fell in, causing the walls to bow precariously inward.

The block of Nash Street East between Goldsboro and Douglas streets has been closed since Thursday.

“Recent heavy rain and wind has caused structural issues to worsen quickly,” said Rebecca Agner, communications and marketing director for the city. “The priority at this point is to stabilize the building as quickly as possible and allow demolition crews to evaluate the next steps.”

A crew from D.H. Griffin Wrecking Co. is on the scene and was expected to begin clawing away at the back of 221-225 Nash St. E. around 1 p.m. Tuesday. The empty building still bears the painted sign from when it housed the Nash Street Treasures Flea Market.

Kenneth W. Bates, project manager for D.H. Griffin Wrecking Co., said a crew of eight personnel will use a large excavator with an 80-foot long arm and a hydraulic shear and a smaller conventional excavator to tear into the building.

The back of the three-story building is almost ready to fall in on itself, he said.

“We are going to take it down before it does fall completely down,” Bates said.

What can’t be seen from street level but is revealed by aerial photography is that most of the roof has fallen in.

“The roof is basically almost sitting on the first floor,” Eric Frye, superintendent with D.H. Griffin, said Tuesday. “We had some drone shots yesterday, so three quarters of the roof is caved in. Still, the side to Nash Street is still up.”

City officials say the building’s condition deteriorated rapidly.

“About 10 days ago, the roof had a significant failure. At that point, we escalated the work and sought contractors for stabilization,” Agner said. “Within days, the building stability became even more critical. Over the weekend, we procured a piece of equipment that we hope will allow the front wall to be saved. The specialized equipment arrived this morning from Virginia.”

D.H. Griffin has much experience with building demolition, including the Dec. 29, 2020, implosion of BB&T’s eight-story Nash Street towers.

“We will start in the back here and work our way to the front and try to save the front wall if possible,” Bates said. “We will use this machine, our long arm, and start cutting our way into it.”

Bates explained that the long arm is a high-reach excavator with an extra-long boom and hydraulic shear attachment on the end.

“We have got the best company around,” Frye said. “Everything should work out good.”

Crews were assembling the long arm Tuesday morning in preparation for the demolition. The activity also led to the closure of Douglas Street between Nash and Green streets.

Agner said no buildings have been evacuated and no occupants have been asked to leave.

“The city has been in communication with all of the surrounding property owners to determine plans for parking and for ingress and egress for everyone on that block,” she said.

Because the sidewalk is closed on that area, Wilson Arts is closed to the public, but summer day campers can enter through a back entrance. The Imagination Station Science & History Museum’s front entrance is also closed, but visitors can use the emergency entrance on the Douglas Street side.

The flea market building was constructed in the 1890s, according to the book “Wilson, North Carolina, Historic Buildings Inventory.” The city acquired the property around 2017 with the intent to preserve it for future private-sector development. Agner added that the building was stable when it was acquired.

Bates said he expected the work to last about a week and a half.

He also said D.H. Griffin had not been hired to perform any resupporting work on the brick building facade once the demolition is complete.

“We’re doing just the demo,” Bates said.

Bates said there’s a possibility that the street in front of the collapsed building could remain closed until the wall is resupported.

Bates could not say whether adjoining buildings would be unscathed in the demolition.

“It is always a danger when you have a collapse,” Bates said. “We don’t know what might happen. We just got to get into it and (will) save everything we can save. We just hope things go well.”

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