Planning Underway To Shore Up Evacuated Building In Uptown Athens

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — A 117-year-old building in uptown Athens remains evacuated and the area around it blocked off as a plan is devised to shore up an exterior wall.

The building, once home to The Athens News newspaper, was evacuated late Friday afternoon after concerns were raised about structural soundness of the north-facing wall.

Several cracks are visible along the brick wall of a building in uptown Athens that was evacuated Friday because of safety concerns.
Several cracks visible along the brick wall of an uptown Athens building evacuated Friday due to safety concerns. [Chris J. Day | WOUB]
Several large cracks have developed in the front portion of the brick wall and part of it is bowing outward.

The building houses two bars on the bottom floor: the Red Brick Tavern and Cat’s Eye Saloon. Lawyers occupy offices on the second and third floors, and there is one rented apartment on the third floor.

But right now, the building sits vacant. The sidewalk on both sides is blocked with heavy duty orange plastic barriers. The blockage extends into the lane of Court Street that fronts the building.

Guy Philips, a managing partner for the building, said architects and engineers were on site with him Tuesday morning to evaluate the problem and recommend a solution. He said the building’s owners planned on doing whatever was recommended to fix the wall and get the building open again.

The structural issues were noted in a report prepared by an engineer. The owners are planning to sell the building and hired an inspector to look it over. The inspector noticed the wall damage and brought in the engineer.

The inspector forwarded a copy of the engineer’s report to the city’s fire chief Friday afternoon, and the chief decided the problem was serious enough to warrant immediate evacuation.

Philips said construction of the building began in 1903 and was completed the following year. The north wall used to touch the historic Berry Hotel, providing extra support. The hotel was torn down in 1974 and replaced with the single-floor metallic silver diner that still occupies the space.