Drought blamed for collapsing wall in old Marion store building

Last Monday morning an interior wall in the back part of a Marion building located at 201/203 Main, began to collapse, creating an unsafe condition to its residents and neighboring building.

The damage was discovered when city officials were making a routine inspection for a building permit the residents had made application for.

According to Dennis Nichols, city administrator, the building is currently under “emergency temporary condemnation,” and the future of the building is uncertain.

The Don Knak family, residents of the building, have vacated the building, and the signs on the windows and padlocks on the doors warn would-be shoppers that the Knick-Knack Shop is closed.

“It is the responsibility of the city to protect the general public,” Nichols said. “In this case, the Knaks and the area surrounding the building were considered part of that general public.”

An engineer’s the initial report suggested dry conditions had caused ground shifting, and the footings were not deep enough nor adequate.

Don Druse, Marion street and alley foreman working on the stabilization project, said, “This is dangerous. It has cracks going right down the side, and you can see a buckle on the east side.”

Marty Fredrickson, Marion city superintendent, said the current condition of the building “caused a threat to the back dining room of Stone City.”

No local firm was able to provide a stabilization by Friday, so, according to Fredrickson, “the city chose to take it upon themselves.”

He said 120 feet of eight inch I-beam was placed on top of the Stone City roof with five-by-five 20-foot timbers placed cross-wised causing a “grid effect.” These beams were placed one to two feet apart. On the top of the grid was placed a nine gauge screen to “catch smaller rock and to act as kind of a shock absorber,” Fredrickson said.

He thought the project would cost the city about $2,500, but said when something permanent was done, the timbers and beams could be sold and the city reimbursed.

The building, built in 1897, “is a significant architecturally designed building,” pointed out Susan Cooper, the city’s economic development director.

“It could be very expensive to repair or even to remove the back wall.”

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