Situated on Liberty Street mid block between Campbell Street and Shelby Street sits a simple yet quite grand brick and limestone structure serving as a warehouse for the Bargain Supply Company. Flapping in the breeze amongst the cracked and damaged brick parapet is a grey tarp keeping the structure dry (or as dry as possible with today’s rain). Next to the building behind a fence a pile of bricks lay strewn across pavement after falling three very tall floors and affixed to the building’s door is a bright yellow sticker declaring the building a “DANGEROUS STRUCTURE.” The note was small so we had to get up close to read it, but once we read all about the peril the building had put us in, we were thankful for the protection of the green cloth awning just above (then proceeded to back away from the building).
The building dates to around the 1880s and represents a commercial vernacular style that made up most of the city fabric in the 19th century. Because of the austere appearance of this type of building and the general abundance of its type years ago, this type of structure is one of the most endangered historical types in the city. Back in September, the hurricane… err, windstorm took the entire roof off the structure, damaging the masonry walls as it went. A portion of the side parapets collapsed and some of the front facade is caving in. Do not fear for the building, however. Bargain Supply Company is preparing to fix the historic building and has already been in talks with contractors to do the work. Repairs would have already been underway, but there have been delays with the large volume of repair work in the city and issues with the LG&E power lines out front.
Current regulations require a 10 foot buffer between workers and the power lines and there’s what, maybe 3 feet or so at best? We’re not sure what needs to be done to the lines (bury them! bury them!), but as soon as the power line situation is resolved, the building will get some much needed care. Plans to fix the structure involve deconstructing the top floor facade down to the third floor window sills and completely rebuilding the wall, and of course, a new roof (and hopefully some correctly sized windows?) will be added.
This isn’t the first time this building has run into trouble with mother nature. The folks over at the Bargain Supply claim there’s some sort of curse on the structure as this is its third bit of major damage in five years. First, the building was struck by lightning and damaged by fire; then the property was again heavily damaged by a tornado a couple years back. It seems a miracle the building survived the Great Earthquake of 2008 unscathed, but hey, it made it through the Flood of 1937, so this building has proved it’s tough. We say hurry up LG&E to we can see this fine structure fixed and out of harm’s way (we know how much the city loves to demolish ‘imminently dangerous buildings’).