August 16, 2013

Tuttle tribulations

Historic building takes another blow

James Bright, Managing Editor,
The Express-Star


The historic Tuttle Bank Building just can't catch a break.

After a May fire left the second floor in ruins, a strong line of storms decimated the remains of the western wall early Friday morning. 

"It seems like the nails are getting into the coffin faster than I can pull them out," building owner Lonnie Paxton said. 

City Manager Tim Young said strong gusty winds shifted from the south to the east around 12:30 a.m. resulting in the damage. 

"In my personal career I've never seen anything like this," he said. 

Now the future of the building may be in jeopardy after last night's onslaught. 

"It is what it is," Paxton said. "I'm always on the optimistic side, but this wasn't just a facade that got knocked down. It was a big part of the building."

Paxton said a crew spent the summer cleaning out the second floor of the building, and before the damage was looking into roofing plans. The second floor housed Grady's Pub and Grille, which is where the May fire originated.

Now, Paxton doesn't know if he'll be able to keep the structure upright, let alone maintain two stories. 

"We are still looking at it and we have no concepts at this time," he said. 

Possibilities include taking the building down to one story, rebuilding the second floor and taking it down to grass level, said Paxton. 

"It's my personal preference not to have a grass lot, but we have to wait and see what's economically feasible," he said. 

The only silver lining in the building's recent history of disaster, has been a complete lack of injuries, said Paxton, who is also dealing with recent storm damage to his home. 

"Last Thursday lightning hit our house and took some of the brick off and burned up all the electronics," he said. 

As for the downtown staple, Paxton maintains the most important thing now is working to keep the historical aspect intact.