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Historic building to be torn down after loose bricks found

March 1, 2020 GMT

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — A 140-year-old north Mississippi building will be torn down after city inspectors concluded its brick walls aren’t sound enough to hold it up.

The Oxford Eagle reports that well-known chef John Currence was renovating the building just south of the Oxford square when a city inspector discovered a load-bearing wall has loose bricks.

On Friday, a city preservation commission issued a demolition certificate to the building’s owner, Tim Smith. It most recently held a Mexican restaurant. During the meeting, building inspector Chris Carter showed photos of loose bricks that hadn’t been remortared over time.

“If the whole wall is indeed like that, any further operation could cause it to crumble,” Carter said. “To ask guys go in there and work on that building right now, even to try to demo it, is a scary thought, to be honest with you.”

Currence was developing a New Orleans-themed restaurant with a rum bar on the second floor.

A sidewalk and a lane of South Lamar Boulevard have been closed since problems were discovered Wednesday.

A structural engineer says demolition will be done carefully to save surrounding buildings, including Square Books, and protect the public.

City officials had earlier denied a request to demolish the building and replace it with a three-story structure.

Currence told commissioners he still intends to still build his restaurant at the location.

“This is not anything we ever entered into lightly,” Currence said after the meeting. “All of us are preservationists at heart.”