Oh, Heck! Historic storefront collapses in Cannelton

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Staff Writer


CANNELTON – The once historic Henry Heck Building in the 100 Block of Sixth Street in Cannelton is now laid in a heap after it collapsed early Saturday morning. Long the subject of controversy in the community as renovations were begun and abandoned years ago, a report to the police department at about 1 a.m. identified fears that the structure had become unstable.

Open to the weather since at least 2009 and held together with temporary walls, Mother Nature finally took its toll. According to Police Chief Lee Hall, he arrived to find the north wall leaning “as though it would fall into the building” and the south-facing wall was leaning outward.

The surrounding area was sectioned off, with streetside vehicles removed and barricades put in place to ensure public safety. The property owner, Carolyn Barr was called to the scene to take steps in razing the hazardous structure. The building is now little more than mounds of old bricks and timber.

The city has discussed the Heck building numerous times at public forums, as the structure has been an eyesore in the community for nearly a decade. Despite previous urgings from the mayor and city council to demolish the former store, Barr was resolute in saying that the historic edifice would be saved and that she was awaiting grants to finish the project.

Co-owning numerous properties in the area, Barr was also a title holder to the William Tell Hotel that collapsed in 2010 in Tell City and also the Victorian-era Obrecht house that has led Tell City officials to intervene in the fate of that historic home.

A call from the News to Barr went unreturned.

With a once difficult decision about how to handle the future of the Heck building now resolved, it brings new questions for city officials. Namely, when will the rubble be removed from the city streetscape?

According to Mayor Mary Snyder, she has spoken with Barr about the cleanup, but a timetable has not been set. She said time will be given to have the owner hire a crew to conduct the removal of debris.

“I guess it’s going to be a little bit but we need to see what she intends to do and go from there to see what we need to do legally,” Snyder continued.