Officials try to locate owners of collapsed building

Published 12:17 am Wednesday, April 14, 2010

NATCHEZ — City officials are trying to locate the owner of a 19th century building that collapsed at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. and Franklin streets Tuesday.

According to Adams County Tax Assessor Reynolds Atkins, the building belongs to Cedric Dwayne Thompson, whose last known address is in St. Paul, Minn. The Mascagni family of Natchez sold the building and its two neighboring properties to Thompson in 2005.

Historic Natchez Foundation Director Mimi Miller said the building was erected between 1835 and 1850, and was once home to the Four Corner Liquor Store.

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“It was built as a commercial building and has been remodeled many times, but it had been allowed to deteriorate,” Miller said.

“We had people interested in trying to acquire (the property), but we weren’t able to get in touch with (the owner). We couldn’t find any telephone listings.”

City crews began demolishing the building Tuesday after it reportedly collapsed at 1:45 a.m. City Engineer David Gardner received an emergency call at 2:30 a.m., but crews weren’t able to accurately assess the damage until daylight.

The south wall of the building that sits on the northeast corner of Martin Luther King Jr. and Franklin streets fell into the building, and due to unstable conditions, crews had no choice but to tear the building down. Gardner said the intersection was barricaded soon after the collapse.

The building was vacant at the time of its collapse, and no injuries were reported.

Franklin Street was closed from the Rankin Street intersection to the site Tuesday afternoon as crews continued to clear debris.

Gardner said the city will continue attempts to contact Thompson, and with any luck, inquire about Thompson’s intentions for the property.

“We’re not trying to remove the whole building. It’s not our place to do so at this time,” Gardner said. “But we must make sure conditions are safe for the traveling public.”