Facade of 19th century building downtown damaged

Falling pieces of a facade alerted Fort Dodge officials to a unsafe building in the downtown area Thursday.

The building, located at 1100 Central Ave., on the northeast corner of Central Avenue and 11th Street, was damaged by the storm that came through town Tuesday night, according to city Building Official Troy Brandt.

“It’s basically storm damage, wind damage,” he said. “There’s part of a facade that’s kind of decorative that the wind has pulled some of the wooden supports out of place. Some of the decorative metal and some of the wood is coming down.”

Brandt said he was alerted to the building issues late Thursday morning.

Fort Dodge Fire Chief Kent Hulett said the building’s parapet caused the most concern for officials.

“Some of the flashing had already dropped off the building, and we were concerned about the structural integrity of the parapet,” Hulett said.

Firefighters brought their ladder truck to help with the building’s inspection.

“We used a ladder truck and the building inspector actually got up there with one of our guys so he could evaluate it,” Hulett said. “There’s definitely some questions about the sturdiness of the parapet.”

Hulett said the building is probably 100 years old and the parapet is likely deteriorated.

According to data on the Webster County assessor’s website, the building was built in 1890.

“The problem you have is you get water in that brick work and freezing and thawing and it actually moves some of the brick work,” he said. “I’ve seen these parapets drop off just from deterioration, and during fire conditions, it doesn’t take long.”

Because of safety concerns, Hulett said the Fire Department blocked off part of the sidewalk and some parking spaces on North 11th Street.

“The owner is getting a private contractor in there to try to remove some of the unstable flashing,” Hulett said. “There’s going to be a need for long-term, significant repairs before there’s more damage and the possibility of more brick work coming down.”

Right now, he said it looks like a part of the building is about to fall off.

“It’s definitely a public safety issue,” Hulett said. “And the property owner was notified to get ahold of a contractor and try to at least temporarily secure the parapet on the building.”

The Webster County assessor’s website lists William L. Bickford and Diane L. Bickford as the deed holders and Brooke Bickford as the contract holder for the building.

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