City leaders are assessing options for a historical building in downtown Palestine after it partially collapsed Tuesday.
Palestine police started getting calls shortly before noon in regard to the Ivanhoe Building, located at the corner of East Oak and Houston streets.
Once authorities arrived on scene, they found the roof collapsed in on the fourth floor, and part of the fourth floor came down to the third floor, said Lysa Bean, marketing manager for the city of Palestine.
Linda Dickens, co-owner of Charles Dickens Fine Jewelry on West Oak Street, said she heard fire truck sirens and decided to look outside.
“I thought ‘It has to be close,’ and when I looked out I could see the (Ivanhoe) ceiling had collapsed,” she said.
Workers in buildings around Ivanhoe were also without power because lines were down from the main power source, Ms. Bean said.
One such worker was Monica Till at East Texas Physicians Alliance, which is across from the Ivanhoe Building.
Ms. Till said people in her office said the building shook and some thought a train had derailed or that a vehicle had hit the structure.
“It was really scary when it happened, but since the (Ivanhoe) Building has been neglected for several years, it had been falling apart …,” Ms. Till said.
“I hate to see anything damaged, but at least now it will be rebuilt or repaired.”
Built in 1913, the Ivanhoe Building served as the organizational meeting for the Knights of Pythias, an international, non-sectarian fraternal order, Ms. Bean said. According to ezinearticles.com, members are “dedicated to the cause of universal peace.”
In recent years, the top two floors have been vacant while the bottom two floors were rented for commercial office space.
“It’s a very pinnacle building for our city,” Ms. Bean said. “Although it hasn’t been used in recent years, it still has some original historic features. Nothing on the outside has really been changed and it remained close to original structure. It’s a piece of Palestine history.”
She said the city must now determine what to do with that piece of history, and a structural engineer is being brought in to give options for fixing it.
It was unknown when the streets would reopen. However, Ms. Bean estimated that it could be a couple or several days.