Approximately 12 weeks after work began to demolish the remnants of a building on the square in downtown LaFayette, plans for the space remain unknown.
LaFayette City Manager David Hamilton said he has not seen any recent plans for the location and has not talked to the property’s owner in the past several weeks since the city, along with the rest of the state and country, was plunged into dealing with executive orders and other fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
On Feb. 13, workers began the process of tearing down the remains of the two-story building, which saw its outside wall collapse on Feb. 22, 2018. Robert White owned the building.
The area currently is surrounded by temporary fencing, while evidence of the demolition, including a couple of large concrete slabs, a handful of stacked metal beams and some dirt, gravel and scattered bricks, remains visible on the site at 101 E. LaFayette Square.
The former Cunningham Law Office building (105 E. LaFayette Square) and the Palace Place building (107 E. LaFayette Square), both of which White later acquired, were included in the demolition permit.
Because the collapsed building shared a wall with the Cunningham Law Office building, that building was also been in danger of collapse, as was Palace Place on the other side of the law office. Both buildings had been vacated since the building collapse.
The demolition plans also included measures to protect the building at 109 E. LaFayette Square, which houses City Club, and the county-owned building connected to the rear of the collapsed building. The county building was once used as a courthouse annex.
A month before the February 2018 collapse, the city’s enforcement department had sent a letter to White, informing him that structural issues needed to be addressed, and the demolition was completed at the owner’s expense.
Until the time of its collapse, the building had been the oldest building still standing in LaFayette.
It was believed to have been originally built as a mercantile store by Spencer Marsh in 1838, where he would sell goods that were brought by wagons from Augusta and Charleston, S.C. Portions of the building had visible scars from the Civil War.
In later years, the store was occupied by Warthern & Sparks Drug Store, Nichols Bros. Drug Store, Loach’s Drug Store, Giles Drug Store and Security Finance Co., while the second floor was the original home of the Walker County Telephone Co. It also housed the offices of Dr. D.W. Hammond for many years.
The building had been modified to include several small commercial spaces on its lower level with apartments on the upper floor, but had been vacant for more than a year before the collapse.