Downtown Sullivan fire halts historic preservation project

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SULLIVAN, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV)– Just after 3 a.m. Monday, Sullivan City Fire Department responded to a fire at a vacant building next to city hall and across the street from the courthouse.

Mayor Clint Lamb said the building, formerly known as the Bodine Law, was going to undergo renovations as a part of Sullivan’s downtown revitalization project.

“At first we thought we were going to have to do a total demolition. Then we had a structural engineer come in and take a look at it and different things,” he said. “We actually have a request for proposals that is out being advertised to fix the back wall of that building. The goal was to do absolutely everything we can to preserve these historic structures in the downtown and re-purpose them.”

The state of Indiana Fire Marshals are conducting an investigation to determine the cause of the fire.

Surrounding businesses and goverment offices, such as Followell Law, Followell Real Estate and the Sullivan Community Corrections buildings, also suffered structural damage as a result of the fire.

“There is water damage and smoke damage and roof damage to the Community Corrections building and then also to Followell Law,” Lamb said.

Several Sullivan residents expressed their concerns to Mayor Lamb when the fire started.

“You can see one of the concerns was the spread. Obviously folks with breathing problems in the community are breathing this in. We’re not supposed to be out of our homes right now. It’s a quagmire. There’s a lot of things going on here at the same time,” he expressed.

However, the mayor said he plans to remain optimistic about the future of the downtown Sullivan area.

“Even with setbacks like this,” he concluded. “The city of Sullivan continues to move forward. There’s not going to be a coronavirus pandemic or a fire in the downtown area that is going to stop the progress of this city. “

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