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Irvington loses landmark building in Sunday’s storm

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INDIANAPOLIS  – The bricks and wood that lie on the ground on Ritter Street early Sunday afternoon weren’t just the ruins of another building claimed by the severe storms that blasted the Midwest.

A number of residents from Irvington were surrounding what was left of the old post office building that faced Washington Street. The took pictures, talked amongst themselves or even made calls looking at what was the oldest commercial building in the neighborhood on Indianapolis Southeast side.

Gusts of wind helped to topple most of the building late afternoon, well before Margaret Lawrence Banning arrived at the scene before the meeting. Of all the people who came by to see what was left of the old post office, the loss may have hit her organization the hardest.

“The word ‘Bittersweet’ keeps coming to mind but there is nothing sweet about it,” said Banning-who is the Interim Director of the Irvington Development Organization. “This is a terrible loss for the neighborhood.”

What makes it so difficult for her and the organization was the fact that efforts were underway to restore the building for future use. For many years the building sat empty on the corner of Ritter and Washington in disrepair and was recently acquired by the IDC with help from other historical societies in an effort to make the building viable.

“We had a long way to go, still,” said Banning of the redevelopment efforts. “The roof was out and we were putting structural steel in the middle to try to stabilize it then we were going to put a new roof on it and restore the storefront.”

More of that steel to help reinforce the building was expected to arrive on Monday. But the storm’s wind proved to be too much for the 110-year old structure to take as the sides of each side of the building collapsed in. Bricks from the building fell onto Ritter and Washington Streets, forcing the intersection to be close for several hours on Sunday evening.

Some of the front and the back of the building remained after the storm blew through but the building is a total loss.

“This is a key intersection and now there is going to be a big gap,” said Banning of not having the building on the corner of Ritter and Washington. “The building itself wasn’t anything spectacular, it was just your standard commercial building from the turn of the last century but it’s one of the few remnants standing along Washington Street corridor.

“It’s really just very sad to lose it.”