Streets in Alexandria shut down as building crumbles into street

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MADISON COUNTY, Ind. – It was a scary situation for the City of Alexandria after bricks started falling from an old historic building, hitting cars and piling up on the sidewalk and street.

This comes less than a week after an old building partially collapsed in downtown Indianapolis, injuring a construction worker.

"This is my hometown," said Tim Burdin, who now lives in Anderson, but grew up in Alexandria. "A lot of wonderful memories here.”

Burdin drove back to his old stomping grounds to see the damage for himself. He wasn't the only one gathering along barriers roped off with caution tape. He was joined by dozens of other Alexandria residents coming to get a glance at the crumbling structure, all of them talking about what used to be in its place.

“It was a barber shop down on the bottom floor,” Burdin remembered. Along with a dessert shop and coffee shop, one of the most talked about former tenants was a place called “The Lighthouse.”

“A lot of us wrote our names on the wall when the lighthouse was in there,” said Anita Key. “It was in the back part. They let us write our names on the wall thinking it would always be there… and it’s kinda sad thinking those names are now going to be gone.”

The thought of that building being no more began on Thursday, when out of nowhere, bricks came crashing into the street.

"It just started slowly, slowly falling,” said Elijah Dunn. “It was crazy.”

At that point, the building that has been vacant for more than a year began its demise, dropping brick after brick onto the city’s streets damaging cars and gaining crowds in the process.

“Oh yeah, it's all over Facebook and everything,” said Michael Clark. “There were tons of people yesterday, probably 20 or 30 people just hanging around waiting for it to fall.”

To their disappointment, or maybe to their relief, the building stayed standing. However, that forced the city to shut down the street and businesses to close up shop. It most likely will stay that way until the building can be safely torn down. The building was built in the late 1800s so the city has to be careful with the demolition.

Testing for asbestos was done Friday, and results are expected Monday. Those results will help the city determine the best way to bring the building down safely. But in the meantime, residents are still heading downtown to watch another piece of Alexandria's history crumble away.

“Not a lot happens here,” said Dunn of his small Madison county town. “It's sad to say, but this is the most excitement we’ve had since the last building was torn down.”

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