TUPPER LAKE - Junction residents gathered on the streets to watch as demolition began on a condemned building at 29 Main St. Monday afternoon.
Shawn Burke and his crew from LVI Environmental Services, a Massena company, used excavators to knock down the top floor and most of the ground floor of the building at about 2 p.m. Monday, while traffic was directed off Main Street for about a half-hour.
Crew members said the demolition would probably be completed some time next week.
A crew from Massena begins demolition on a historic building at 29 Main St. in Tupper Lake Monday afternoon, a process nearing completion after more than a year-and-a-half of work to condemn the building.
(Enterprise photo — Jessica Collier)
Burke's company in the past has gotten rid of several other dilapidated buildings in Tupper Lake, including the Northland Hotel on Wawbeek Avenue.
Village Code Enforcement Officer Pete Edwards, who lives nearby, said he began the proceedings to condemn the property more than a year-and-a-half ago.
Ticonderoga resident Mohammad Afzal owned the building and hired some contractors to work on the structural integrity of it, but the contractors made off with his $60,000, Edwards said. After that, Afzal couldn't afford to fix it and was forced to abandon it.
The village paid for the cleanup but will be reimbursed by Franklin County in April, Edwards said. He said county Treasurer Bryon Varin told him the county makes enough money from its property auctions to cover the cost of demolishing run-down buildings.
"So that's why the county doesn't have any problem with communities taking on these projects," Edwards said.
The Main Street building was last used as an apartment house but operated as a grocery store for many years, said Carol Poole, a retired Tupper Lake English teacher who is working on a book about the history of the Junction.
Poole said she was not sure when the building was erected, but it was likely built sometime between 1898, when the lot was bought by Allan B. Flanders for $100, and July of 1901, when Flanders sold half the lot for $1,700.
"So if he sold it for $1,700 a few years later, it had to have a building on it," Poole said.
It is possible that building burned down and was replaced by another one.
Railroad man James Brown bought the building in 1901, and Evariste LeBoeuf, who also owned the Grand Union Hotel, ran a grocery store there. It switched hands a few times over the next few decades and was in its heyday after 1935, when Napoleon and Louis Grenier acquired it in a property trade.
"It was a very busy store," Poole said. "(Napoleon) had a clerk and five drivers; he delivered groceries. It was a very successful store when the Greniers had it."
In 1954, Adelard Boyer turned the grocery store into a snack bar that only lasted a few years. After that, Poole said it fell out of use as a commercial location.
It's possible that the building was used for a residence ever since, until it became so run down in recent years that it was uninhabitable.
Contact Jessica Collier at 891-2600 ext. 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org.