A venerable old commercial building storefront in downtown Hartford that had survived the ravages of time for 125 years suddenly collapsed in a heap in that Van Buren County community today, Thursday, May 28, 2020, and the reason behind it is still largely a mystery. Fortunately, it appears that nobody was in or near it when it fell, and no injuries have been reported.
Hartford Police and Firefighters were called out around 3pm when the front of the vacant building, which has been home to myriad businesses over the decades it has been standing, simply collapsed onto the street and sidewalk at the intersection of Center and Main Streets in the city.
Inasmuch as the two-story building is still precariously perched with a gaping front end, and a weakened roof-line, authorities called in Great Lakes Drone Company of Watervliet to fly an unmanned drone into the building to see if anyone had been trapped inside at any point. Nobody was found.
Since authorities are fearful that the collapse could continue further, the intersection was blocked off, and there are concerns that it may have to be completely demolished.
The property has sat idle for many years, but one source quoted the Mayor of Hartford, Richard Hall, as saying it was actually in the process of a potential sale.
It is reportedly one of a handful of the original buildings first erected in downtown Hartford back in 1895.
The cause for the collapse is unknown at this time, but Hall told one reporter that a leak may have caused the building to become unstable. The investigation will continue, and city officials are searching for a demolition crew to handle the rest of the job.
The photos accompanying this story on Moody on the Market are courtesy of Sara Crouse from Sawyer, who was traveling in the area and came upon the scene this afternoon.