Storm destroys historic Irvington post office


Amid the heart-breaking devastation of the November 17th storms is one for the history books.

An Irvington group had been working for months to restore a 1903 building which once housed a post office. But on Sunday, it all came crumbling down during a storm.

A demolition crew is being brought in to tear down what was left standing due to concerns it might collapse further, posing a danger to the neighborhood.

The front of the 110-year-old building overlooking Washington St. was still standing after Sunday afternoon's powerful storms, but there were concerns about the wall coming down. The 5200 block of Washington St. at Ritter Ave. was closed as a result.

The building had been worked on for the past year in an attempt to restore it to its original character and find a new use for it.

Margaret Banning with the Irvington Development Organization fought back tears as she told Eyewitness News it was tough news to take.

"We're a very proud neighborhood and it's been hard to see this," she said.

"We took the risk, the gamble of buying a building we knew was in sad shape; pretty neglected. We knew it was a risk," she added.

In fact, donated structural steel was expected to arrive to help stabilize the building - but that was before the storms hit Sunday. It's hard to know if that would have prevented the building from coming down Sunday.

It was one of the oldest commercial structures in Irvington. "Just a standard early 20th century commercial building but it helped to make the neighborhood what it was and really sorry to see it go," said Banning. 

Sunday night demolition crews tore down what was left of the old post office, finishing what Sunday's weather started. 

"This is an important part of urban edge and it's just so vital to our neighborhood," said Irvington resident Dawn Briggs, as she looked at the wreckage.

"We've been trying to renovate it, to bring it back," said Don Flick with the Irvington Historical Society.

Flick was acting as the architect on the renovation project and was working on some renderings when he heard the severe weather hit from his Irvington home.

"The winds started picking up and I raced over here and saw it was down," said Flick.

"To see this tonight, is pretty sickening," he added as demolition crews did their work.

There wasn't a choice, though.

Only the front of the building was left standing, but it was in danger of collapsing right onto Washington Street.

Still, watching the old post office come down, knowing what it could have been once again, had hearts in the Irvington neighborhood, breaking, like the broken walls coming down under heavy machinery.

"It's a very wonderful neighborhood to live in and a lot of history and we appreciate the old houses and the old buildings," said resident Jennifer Capps.

Now, there's one less historic building in Irvington for its residents and visitors to appreciate.

"We can rebuild it, but it won't be the same building," said Flick.

It can't be.  You can't replace more than a hundred years of history.