Texas Street building damaged in massive fire was in process of making comeback
SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - Bricks, rubble, and only a portion of the old Humpfrees building still stand after a massive fire Wednesday, Sept. 22.
Tim Huck owns the Sandbar, a business that’s just steps from the Humpfrees building. He said his building didn’t suffer severe damage.
“Some of the roof did catch on fire but the firefighters put it out immediately,” he said.
Michael Caldwell recalls going to the Chicago nightclub, which is right next door. That building is vacant, but has some visible damage to the wall.
“I remember this being one of the top clubs here in Shreveport-Bossier called ‘Bana,’ then they changed the name of it to Chicago. It used to be upstairs and downstairs,” Caldwell said.
According to the Shreveport Downtown Development Authority, the Humpfrees building has a lot of history. It dates back to the late 1800s and once was known as a hangout spot.
Caddo Commissioner Steven Jackson said the building was in the works of making a comeback.
“The goal was to preserve it and put it back into use, multipurpose, a little bit of commercial at the bottom, residential in the middle and some event space at the top,” he said.
Jackson said Thursday, Sept. 22 they’re already having a discussion about what happens next with this building.
The day after the fire, Jackson released a statement about the incident:
“On yesterday (September 21, 2022) many of us watched with disbelief and sadness 114 Texas in downtown Shreveport went up in flames. While we do not know the cause of the fire, we do know that the fire damaged the structure beyond preservation. I can confirm for many months a group of developers, real estate professionals, state elected officials, and local elected officials have worked with the Louisiana Housing Corporation and Louisiana’s Office of Community Development to secure significant financial resources to rehabilitate the oldest remaining building in downtown Shreveport. Such support was affirmed as recently as last Wednesday (September 14,2022).
“While it would have been easier to simply demolish the building as it had been proposed by some, those on the side (of) preserving that which is unique to our city understood and supported the vision of a public-private partnership to preserve the oldest remaining building in downtown Shreveport. No city ‘worth its salt’ should ever prioritize another empty lot in downtown over its architectural and cultural heritage. Many Shreveport residents have fond memories of the former Humphfrees Dance Hall (sic) and other businesses at this establishment that made downtown a place people wanted to visit.
“Downtown Shreveport is no stranger to devastating fires, as many can recall the 2009 fire that completely destroyed the Shreveport Regional Arts Council (SRAC). What ultimately emerged was a community commitment to see a bigger and better community of Creatives. I believe that has served us well. As Caddo Parish Commissioner for downtown and the Louisiana Housing Corporation representative for this region, I am committed to continuing to work with the private development team, state officials, and local officials to secure financial resources to create the envisioned multi-use development in this location. I am also committed to supporting a development that compliments the architecture and integrity of downtown and places 114 Texas back into active commerce.
“Thank you to the brave men and women of Shreveport’s Fire who have worked tirelessly throughout the night to extinguish this fire. Thank you to the men and women of the Shreveport Police who secured the perimeter. I do hope for a full investigation into the cause of the fire that destroyed this historic building.”
The owner of the building, Marcus Hunter, also provided a statement about the massive fire:
“As the owner of 114 Texas Street, I am as heartbroken as anyone could be over yesterday’s tragic fire. I am also thankful for the courageous work of Chief Clarence Reese and all of the men and women of the Shreveport Fire Department as well as all of the first responders who helped to protect and preserve both life and property. I give thanks none were harmed and damage to surrounding structures was limited to the extent possible. I have only owned 114 Texas Street since 2019, purchasing the property from the City of Shreveport in its pre-burned yet dilapidated state. As with most of the world, my timeline was greatly affected by the global pandemic. I have assembled an experienced local development team and worked with Parish and State officials and agencies to line up a considerable portion of the funding needed to return this location back to commerce as downtown residential housing. Our plan is to create a development which both recognizes the architectural history of Shreveport whilst providing updated housing and mixed uses reflexive of the trends of progressive cities.
I am in communication with the administration of the city of Shreveport regarding the current situation and have assured them my plans are still to move the project forward. In the immediate future, we will work with the city to secure the location and ensure no further damage is done. At the same time, we will continue to assemble the financing needed for this project with the goal of creating a first-class development which can serve as the gateway to Downtown Shreveport. Lastly, I am thankful for all those who have joined me in our efforts to preserve this part of Shreveport history. It will not soon be forgotten. Your fond memories of Shreve Square have buoyed our efforts and confirmed this to be a worthwhile pursuit. In line with the spirit of the upcoming downtown celebrations, ‘Viva La Shreve Square!’”
Update: Chief Reese of the Shreveport Fire Department says the fire is currently under investigation. Arson has yet to be ruled out and is being considered since the building was vacant and caught fire during the day. The ATF being involved is routine according to Reese.
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