Ashdown Hardware building partially collapses

Published: Aug. 19, 2016 at 7:11 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 19, 2016 at 8:24 PM CDT
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ASHDOWN, AR (KSLA) - A part of Southwest Arkansas history is no more.

And motorists in Ashdown, Ark., need to find a route other than Main Street for the immediate future, city police say.

That's because the building that for 111 years housed Ashdown Hardware partially collapsed just before dawn Aug. 19.

Now the westbound lane of the 100 block of Main Street is closed until further notice, police Capt. Bobby Walraven said.

"It's going to be shut down for a while."

And the owners of Ashdown Hardware are left to pick up the pieces of a business that's been operating at that location since 1905.

"We are thankful by God's grace they weren't opened this morning to where they didn't have people in there or people coming in and out," said Kathie Gilbert Carter, whose family owns the building.

On Aug. 18, workers tore down the building next door to Ashdown Hardware.

For safety reasons, workers intentionally demolished 2 adjacent storefronts Aug. 17.

They assessed the hardware store building and said it was structurally stable, Carter said. So it was business as usual Aug. 18.

Apparently damaged during the demolition was an I-beam on the front of Ashdown Hardware; plans were to repair that the morning of Aug. 19, Walraven said.

Instead, he continued, the I-beam collapsed sometime between 5 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. Aug. 19.

Authorities suspect a train passing through on the tracks behind Ashdown Hardware might have contributed to the building's collapse. "It all happened about the same time," Walraven said.

"We have lost a major landmark on Main Street in Ashdown," said John Finley, president of Ashdown Historical Society.

When you walked into the grand store, he added, it was very much as it was when it was first built."

"I hope they can rebuild and I hope they can repair what is remaining."

Carter said her family bought the business 2 years ago in an effort to help revitalize downtown Ashdown.

Employees and a few friends now are trying to save what they can from inside the historic landmark.

"We are going to do everything we can to bring it back," Carter said. "If there is any way possible that we can afford to rebuild, we are going to rebuild
 right here, you know, because this is downtown."

KSLA staffers Fred Gamble and Curtis Heyen contributed to this report.

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