Some residents of a downtown Washington apartment building that partially collapsed were able to retrieve a portion of their belongings Monday morning.
Residents fled the building at 15 N. Main St., also called the “Montgomery Building,” as a rear section came down the morning of July 12, trapping Megan Angelone for more than nine hours.
Though they’ve been assisted by agencies, including the American Red Cross and Salvation Army, residents weren’t able to return to the building for their possessions.
“Some of the people on the right side were able to tell crews what necessary things they needed,” said city Councilman Ken Westcott. “We contacted the Red Cross to get in touch with them. We’ll be working on that today and tomorrow, to try to get the things that aren’t damaged.”
Workers with contractor Allegheny Crane Rental also were able to salvage a portion of the historic building, including a 40-foot section of corbels – decorative brackets that lined the top of the building – and the concrete plaque bearing the building’s name.
Westcott said the road department will store the historic elements until officials decide what to do with them.
For the next 10 days to two weeks, the crew will continue to work to get the building down to a stable level.
“They’ll be picking away at the building, taking pieces off,” Westcott said.
Though the city secured an emergency demolition order from Washington County Court the day of the collapse, demolition has been slow because of the proximity of two adjacent properties, 3 N. Main St., site of the former Brothers Pizza, and 19 N. Main St., the former Big Room nightclub.
North Main Street was closed from Beau to Chestnut streets, but Westcott said a portion has been opened to motorists and pedestrians.
“We’re trying to let people know the businesses (in the area) are still open and to please come and patronize,” Westcott said. “Because of safety, it’s a slow process. We’re asking to please be patient.”
Officials have estimated the demolition of the building will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, but haven’t revealed a specific figure.
Mayor Scott Putnam said the city is looking into local, state and federal sources of money to demolish the building.
“We just continue to work with the demolition contractor, the insurance company for (building owner Mark) Russo and his attorney … so residents don’t have to fund the cost,” Putnam said. “Hopefully, there is some state money we can tap into, if not for demolition, then for reconstruction.”