by Geoff Kelly - posted 12:12 pm, June 12, 2008
Peter Koch wrote about the imminent collapse of the White Bros. Livery stable on Jersey Street more than two months ago. Rose Mattrey took pictures of the bricks falling from the building into people’s backyards. Many brick buildings in the city of a certain vintage are in trouble, as Koch wrote:
It all comes down to masonry and weather. Over time—40 to 60 years, say—the bond between bricks and the lyme-based mortar that holds them together breaks down, allowing water to penetrate the wall. Every time it freezes outside, then, the water expands into ice, slowly tearing the bricks apart. This winter, however, we had an odd cycle of freezing and thawing weather. It would rain over the weekend, then drop into the teens for a week-long blast from Old Man Winter. And it happened over and over again, maybe a dozen times. That’s like aging a building 12 years over the course of one winter.
The city’s reaction? Insufficient, I would say. The owner? He brought in a guy to repair some windows, to prove to the city that he was taking some steps to address the building’s structural problems. When the guy tried to do repairs, the windows collapsed in on him.
The floors of this building hang from the roof, using an ingenious truss; as a result of this architectural marvel, when the roof goes, the floors will fall, forcing the exterior walls to fall outward—onto the neighboring houses. The walls are three bricks thick.
The city took bids on demolition this morning.
UPDATE: Empire Dismantlement Corp. won the bid for a reported $300,000. It won’t come down today; some say next week, but the city hasn’t seen a Friday afternoon demolition in a while…
Concerned citizens are meeting this evening to discuss alternatives to demolition. And, no doubt, to roast Bob Freudenheim, the owner, who was skulking around the property this afternoon.