When it happened, Bev Bender thought someone had driven into the building.
“It was like a bomb went off, I was talking on the phone and suddenly there was a big kaboom,” said Bender.
The sound was actually crumbling bricks and mortar that had fallen off from the building, crashing 15 feet below on the sidewalk in front of the entrance to a next-door barbershop owned by Ty Owens. It was Thursday, Oct. 17, around lunchtime in downtown Lakeview, when the façade of the Snider Building on E Street fell. The only damage, aside from the building’s wall, came to Owens’ cloth awning over the entrance.
“Quite a few people have been asking about it, but I can’t tell them much because I wasn’t here when it happened,” said Owens. “I came back from lunch and said, ‘what the (expletive) happened!’ when I saw all these chunks of brick in front of my door. It is a good thing I wasn’t giving anyone a haircut at the time or I might have shaved a big stripe right down their head.”
Three businesses are located inside the Snider Building, located at the corner of E and 1st Street, named after its original tenant C.U. Snider. Bender’s Digital Prints, the barbershop, and a beauty shop in back now fill what was originally a general store that first opened in January 1901, but was best known for being a bank for many decades.
The structure was part of a community-wide rebuilding effort in the wake of the May 22, 1900 fire that leveled most of Lakeview. In 1903 an 18-foot expansion was completed for a workshop, which now houses a beauty shop.
Initial shock at the perceived explosion quickly turned to gratitude that nobody had been walking by or entering Ty’s shop at the time, or the fallen debris may have caused a fatality. Instead the debris has revealed something more interesting, the original wood supports of the 1900 designed building.
While many of Lakeview’s downtown buildings still standing today were built in the early 1900s in the wake of the great Lakeview fire, and some subsequently leveled again when another fire in 1909 again ravaged the town, few have retained their original rustic western design. The Snider Building, like others, has been modified many times over the years to fit different businesses, and at some point, most likely when a bank was established in the 1930s, the original wood framing was covered by masonry.
In recent years thanks to committees such as the Lakeview Community Partnership there has been a strong effort to embrace downtown Lakeview’s historic structures and aesthetic. With the original frame wood now visible, many including Owens and the Bender’s would like to see that classic rustic design return to the entire building.
“The wood façade is how it originally was all around, and we like it – we’d like to see that all around,” said Darryl Bender.
According to Building Inspector Ken Cooper, the damaged area appears to be aesthetic, not structural, so unless the building owner requests an inspection it is out of his hands – but he has concerns.
“My logic is it was all done at the same time, so can figure if one section is coming off something else will follow,” said Cooper. “Until they want to start doing actual construction on it it’s out of my jurisdiction, unless chunks of the building structurally start falling off or the roof caves in.”
At 120 years old since its construction, Bender notes that there are numerous areas of attention needed on the structure, but it is up to the building owner, Dave Fertada, to decide on any actions taken moving forward.
“I would rather see it with the wood showing that way, I think it would look neat,” added Owens.
According to Bender, Fertada is currently hunting and unavailable. Messages left by the Examiner were unreturned prior to publishing.