Downtown demolition work begins

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The downtown buildings damaged in the May 24 fire at the cornerof Whitworth Avenue and Monticello Street will soon no longer be aneyesore nor a curiosity, but instead gone forever.

The fire gutted The Posey Place, Tri-County Finance, Louise’sFamily Fashion, and Brookhaven Electronics in an early morning firethat began around 5 a.m. Walls began to crumble shortly after thebulk of the fire was put out, and portions of the sidewalks wereblocked off to keep the debris from injuring passers-by.

After a storm loosened part of the facade above Tri-CountyFinancial last Friday and it seemed to dangle precariously aboveWhitworth Avenue, Police Chief Pap Henderson closed a section ofWhitworth in front of the buildings. Over the weekend, buildingowner Chid Lofton contacted Bobby Britt, of Wesson, to come in anddo the final cleanup.

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“I’m just going to haul it offsite and salvage it,” said Brittduring a break from the demolition work that began shortly 8 “We’re going to salvage as much as possible.”

The entire corner will be leveled, Britt said, and the processshould take about three weeks.

Henderson said he was on his way to look at the demolition scenetoday and would soon determine how long the road surrounding itwill be blocked off.

Henderson has in the past stressed the importance of keepingpedestrians and trespassers out of the fire-damaged areas. Brittagreed.

“We really don’t need any liability at this site,” said Britt.”If people aren’t in the area to get hurt, they won’t gethurt.”

Britt has been a contractor and builder in the area for 28 yearsand has participated in several important cleanups in past years inBrookhaven. He said he’s sorry to see the history lost in thedowntown area.

“I hate to see the history wasted but the best we can do is hopeto salvage some of the historic bricks,” Britt said. “Maybesomewhere down the road they’ll make a nice wall in someone’shouse.”

And as far as what will go on the corner, plans are stillcompletely unclear, but two Brookhaven Police officers on the scenetoday might have a lead on it.

“Thursday night I dreamt that my wife and I were old and we hada dining car restaurant on this corner,” said Sgt. Rob Smith. “ThenI talked to Joe Portrey and he said he’d had the same dream.”

Portrey had actually had the idea to bring a dining carrestaurant to Brookhaven months ago. He has been looking into thecost of cars and transporting them to the city.

“I talked to a guy in December and told him he needs to belooking for me a dining car,” said Portrey.

As far as the possibility of working together to bring theidentical dreams to fruition, both Portrey and Smith laughed thatit seems like a great idea.

“It could happen,” said Smith. “But that’s up to Joe, because Idon’t want to step on his toes. I just thought it was weird for twopeople to have the exact same dream about the exact samething.”