Tribune building demolished
FAIRFIELD — Fairfield lost a piece of history Tuesday when part of the Tribune Printing Company building was demolished after it was found to be in danger of collapse.
The Jefferson County Law Center received a call about the Tribune Printing Company’s potential collapse at 3:05 p.m., and dispatched officers to the building at 101 W. Briggs Ave. Upon arrival, the Fairfield Fire Department noted the outside wall on the north side of the building was leaning heavily toward the street.
Briggs Street from Second Street to Main Street was immediately closed to all vehicle traffic due to concerns of the building collapsing further into the street. The Tribune Printing Company building was evacuated, as were neighboring Ila’s Restaurant and Revelations Café, as well as all apartments above those businesses due to reports of a gas leak coming from the printing company building.
Alliant Energy was notified of the gas leak and shut off gas to all evacuated buildings. The affected businesses were able to resume normal operations by 6 p.m.
A local excavating company, Cross Iron Excavating, tore down the compromised portion of the roof and north wall to prevent any further collapse. The company first used an excavator to tear down the wall, and then brought in an endloader to push the debris off the street. Demolition ceased just after 5 p.m. and the 16 Fairfield firefighters on the scene returned to the station.
According to a press release from the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office, the rest of the building will be torn down as soon as the owner’s insurance company can send adjustors to survey the damage. Ross Walker owns the building.
Fairfield Police Capt. Dave Thomas said today he expects the streets around the printing company building to be closed for several days and that motorists should plan accordingly.
Before the north wall was brought down, the firefighters rolled three antique cars belonging to Walker out of the garage on the west end. One of the cars started and was driven away, while the other two were loaded onto a flatbed and hauled off.
The Tribune Printing Company building turned 100 years old this year. The Tribune Printing Company called the building home from 1980 until it closed for business in June. In the 1920s, the building housed the Fairfield Motor Company, the Brown Motor Company and Easton Motor Sales. In the 1930s, Reliable Department Store and Leach Hatcheries used the space, and Benteco Supermarket moved in during the 1940s.
The 1950s saw Brainard Pontiac and Benner Food Store open up shop there, followed by Wulff’s Furniture in the 1960s. Gibson’s Discount Center department store and the Big ‘o’ Factory Outlet used the building in the 1970s before the Tribune Printing Company moved in.
Before the 1914 building, the building that stood at that location was Fairfield’s Grand Opera House, built in 1890 but destroyed by an electrical fire in 1909.