Roof collapses in downtown Delphi

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The building as seen from street view. Through the left, second-story window, the roof is visible.

Elyse Perry, editior

On the afternoon of Aug. 13, the roof of a building in downtown Delphi collapsed. The front window exploded outwards, spraying glass on the sidewalk and into the street. Luckily, no one was harmed. 

According to Chandler Underhill, a cook at the Sandwich Shop who witnessed the accident, the building has not been occupied in the six years he’s worked at the restaurant. In fact, the last business, Curves, a women’s gym, moved out in 2014. Since then, the building’s support beams and ceilings have been left to deteriorate. These structural issues plus the rainwater build-up on the roof are likely the reasons for the collapse.

In 2017, local resident Michelle Perry looked at the building as a potential buyer. She said, even then, the building’s ceilings were falling down. In addition to the ceilings, she worried about the structural soundness of the support beams in the basement. “I didn’t buy [the property] because I was scared it was going to fall in,” she stated. 

The building was built in 1870, so it required upkeep. However, it has been abandoned since Curves left in 2014. Between the years of 2015 and 2018, no taxes were paid on the building, causing it to be sold in a tax sale auction in 2019. Even with new owners, the building still stayed empty and continued to fall apart. Then, the roof collapsed.

In the time since the collapse happened nearly two weeks ago, the area where the glass landed has been taped off. Thus, a few parking spaces in front of the building are unavailable. This has had a small impact on the businesses next door. Brianna Manning, a junior at DCHS and a server at the Sandwich Shop, stated, “We’re still busy, but [curbside pickup] is harder. Some people can’t find close parking spaces.” 

The Flower Shoppe II has been affected much more seriously. When the building fell, the police came and taped off the area, attaching the caution tape to the front of the flower shop causing people to think they were closed. When they moved the tape, their problems still weren’t fixed. The business caters mostly to elderly people, many of which are handicapped. When the roof fell in, three parking spaces were lost, and they haven’t been reopened yet. The loss of those spaces and the already limited parking is leading to even less business, which is very bad considering the COVID crisis.

Currently, it doesn’t seem like there are any plans for the property beyond cleaning up the sidewalk and road in front of it. However, due to its proximity to the courthouse square and placement on Main St., any future changes are destined to be noticed.