Future of main portion of Wilson Furniture building remains uncertain
BRIDGEPORT — Much of the former Wilson Furniture building has been demolished, but the portion that once held the storefront remains standing, for the time being.
Owner Jason Wilson said he is awaiting an assessment and decision from State Farm Insurance company that will determine the future of the building and whether it can be salvaged. He said now that the structure at 223 N. Lincoln Ave. has been torn down, the company plans to send an engineer out to see if the adjacent building at 227 N. Lincoln Ave. is structurally sound.
The large building that was razed, built in the 1880s, was severely damaged by a fire that ravaged all three floors of the warehouse, and the roof collapsed due to the flames on Nov. 18. The Ohio State Fire Marshal later determined there was no indication of foul play; however, an exact cause of the blaze is unknown.
Demolition started at midnight Jan. 27 for safety reasons, as passing traffic and pedestrians are more limited during the overnight hours. Wilson said they wanted to take precautions to ensure there were no issues.
“Everything is where it needs to be. It’s been a safe process getting it down,” he said.
As of Thursday, crews were working to clean up the debris from the initial demolition. Wilson said they were separating the materials that can be disposed of at the landfill from those that cannot, such as steel beams and air conditioning units.
“It’s a process to take these buildings down, and so they’ve got the majority down on the ground,” he said.
Phase 2 of the process will be determined once the insurance company comes to a decision. He said he was informed by the company that the determination will be made “soon.”
As for the future of the site, Wilson said there are many goals but no exact plans as of yet.
“Because we don’t know what our options are yet. We have to determine from what is decided on what we can do,” he said. “We’re up in the air with nothing certain, but we have some thoughts. But right now, we’re waiting to determine what our fate is based on what the insurance company is going to do with that building.”
In the meantime, Wilson Furniture is operating in the Wilson Mattress property, just a couple doors down the street from the former furniture store building on the corner of U.S. 250 and Lincoln Avenue. The store is open for business seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. as well as online at wilsonfurniturestore.net.
“We’re offering La-Z-Boys, mattresses, bedroom, living room sets. Our full selection is available in our temporary store, as I call it,” he said.
Wilson said his goal is to eventually have a separate furniture location “somewhere in the Ohio Valley.”
“The question is when, where, how? We have to look at the possibilities, and that’s the part that’s hard to articulate because there’s a lot of questions,” he said.
“The demolition is happening, and we’ll see where we go with the next building. But right now, we are business as usual in the furniture store on the corner. We’re there to help people every day with furniture questions and needs that they have, and we’re happy to help people. … We’re operating every day as a furniture store. The demolition is down the street.”