Historic building a total loss following Saturday fire

(Provided Photo/Sheridan Historical Society)

SHERIDAN, Ind. (WISH) – Fire investigators say a more than century-old building in Sheridan’s downtown historic district is a total loss.

“The building is going to have to come down,” said Sheridan Fire Captain Kevin Stern.

“Priceless. You can’t rebuild them like that. They don’t build them like that anymore,” said Historian Glory-June Greiff.

Luckily no one was hurt, but Greiff says this loss is devastating. She wrote the building’s nomination (documentation) for the National Register of Historic Places, for the four blocks of downtown Sheridan around 2007. The Golden Rule Building was one of the most significant “contributing resources.”

“That particular building was influenced by Romanesque revival, which was a very popular style in the 1890s. But, you didn’t see it in small towns much. So, it was a very significant example of that,” said Greiff.

Investigators are on scene, keeping their distance until engineers can assess the damage and figure out the safest way to bring down the rest of the building. It’s a building that meant much more than just brick and mortar to generations of Sheridan neighbors.

“Oh, yea. It is very devastating to this town,” said Jennifer Went, Sheridan Florist Owner.

“We are a small town, but it’s still part of the town so it is hard to see it like that,” said neighbor Rachel Hammack.

Somewhere around 1892 the building was built and opened as a popular department store.

“It was actually a regional destination. “The Golden Rule” it was called,” said Greiff.

Over the years it housed several businesses. Most recently, Main Street Power Mail. Power mail printed things like post cards, fliers and letters to be mailed to homes.
The mounds of paper served as perfect fuel for the fire.

“Oh, absolutely. It was an open space building. it was old construction and fueled by a lot of paper inside,” said Stern.

Monday, firefighters worked to extinguish hot spots. Investigators are using the truck’s aerial ladder for photographs. Some 17 businesses are without power.

Sheridan Florist is using a generator to save their flowers, but they are working with no air conditioner.

“That’s right. And we are in the dark,” said Went.

Other businesses on Main have closed. Going forward, there’s no hope in saving the building. The focus is how to bring it down safely.

“That south wall, I have no idea what’s keeping it from falling,” said Stern.

Once the building is brought down, state road 39 can open and investigators will finally be able to go in and try to figure out how the fire started. But, for those who love this quaint, historic downtown, it certainly will never be the same.

“Gosh, it was a great building! I want to go hug it! It just hurts my heart,” said Greiff.

“To see something like that, to be a loss of our Main Street and downtown, it’s sad,” said Stern.

The power outage is due to a damaged transformer. Crews can’t get to it because the area is unsafe.

Duke Energy is on scene trying to reroute power and hopes to have everyone up and running no later than tomorrow.

The demolition of the building will begin on Tuesday. Power had not been restored to the area as of 9 p.m. Monday.

(Provided Photo/Sheridan Historical Society)
(Provided Photo/Sheridan Historical Society)

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