For nearly 150 years, the 30-foot-tall brick building stood at the corner of Third and Ferrel Streets in Platte City, just a short walk from the Platte County Courthouse. It bore witness to the progress of Platte City from a river town to a prosperous County seat, and welcomed generations of church-goers and social gatherings while its signature steeple towered over the triumphs and travails that a century and one-half of history brings.
In the span of a few minutes on a bright spring day Monday morning, all that history came tumbling down, brick-by-brick.
The 146-year-old building was demolished by father-and-son owners Jeff and Trevor Bash, five days after the partial collapse of the north wall of the structure led PlatteCity officials and engineering consultants to deem the building unsalvageable and unsafe.
“It is a shame to lose this building,” Platte City Mayor Frank Offutt said. “The building has been part of the community for my entire life. The City appreciates Mr. Bash’s willingness to step forward to renovate the building; we also appreciate his attempts to save the building after the partial collapse. In the end, both of our engineers advised Mr. Bash and the City staff that the building was too unstable and simply too dangerous to think about working on or around. The danger to the public was just too great.”
The damage which led to the decision to demolish the structure occurred at 9:30 p.m. May 29, according to City Administrator D.J. Gehrt. Residents reported an extremely loud noise. When first responders arrived, they immediately noticed that one-half of the north wall of the structure had collapsed into Ferrell Street. The on call officers secured the area, established a safe fall perimeter and began management and utility notification.
“Fortunately, there was no one in the building, no one was injured or killed and there was very little if any property damage,” Platte City Police Department Sgt. Mike Mand said.
The demolition of the building Monday also occurred with no injuries, but an adjacent house, which has set vacant for several years and is in a serious state of disrepair, was damaged when the east wall of the former church building collapsed onto it. The damage to that structure forced a family residing next door at 309 Ferrel Street to evacuate their residence.
“We can’t go back into our house,” said Courtney Thompson, who lives at the residence with her young son and her parents, Marvin and Beverly Thompson. “I was lucky and packed a duffel bag with a few days’ worth of clothes, but everything else we own is in that house.”
Courtney Thompson said that her family had “been nervous” ever since the Bashes removed some trees near the foundation of the old building more than one week prior to the wall collapse.
“We walked past that wall one day after they pulled those trees and I could tell it was in bad shape,” she said.
Monday night, the Thompsons stayed at the residence of another family member nearby.
Jeff Bash said Tuesday that he was not totally sure why the wall collapsed, but he had a few ideas.