UPDATE: Bricks fall from vacant building in Petersburg

By Nicole Bell - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - Everyone we spoke with talked about the historical significance of this building. Many say they're devastated to see it in this condition.

A gaping hole sits on the side of the building at 127 West Bank Street in old towne Petersburg. The owner sat at the scene for hours watching and waiting for word on whether the structure can be saved.

"I'm certainly hoping it's salvageable - it's going to cost us an arm and a leg but I hope it's salvageable," said the owner Margaret Byrne.

The collapse happened around seven o'clock Tuesday night. No one was hurt. The building is vacant and has been that way for quite some time. The three story structure was built in 1811. Margaret Byrne purchased it in 2003.

"We came here primarily to restore this building that was our primary interest," said Byrne.

Residents couldn't believe their eyes. Gloria Leake owns a business a few doors away.

"I've been here for about 20 years and I've seen a lot and that building used to be a tourist attraction," said Leake.

The structure is said to be a landmark. It was the first double parlor built in the south.

"It used to be an opera house and performing arts," said Helen Douglas.

Helen Douglas is a former museum guide for Petersburg. She says a lot of people visited the building because of a cannon ball.

"The cannonball story would be that was from the civil war and that it was shot and the cannonball landed there and stayed for a hundred years," said Douglas.

For now, West Bank Street is expected to remain closed until the structure is fenced in and stabilized. Investigators say it could take several days to pinpoint exactly what caused a portion of the building to come down.

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