Twenty-six businesses were affected by the downtown Murray disasters of 2014, according to a summary by the Murray-Calloway Chamber of Commerce. These events include a building collapse, a partial roof collapse and a fire.
Gatlin Building, a 21,000 square-foot structure built 135 years ago, collapsed Feb. 22. The National Trust for Historic Preservation paid for several engineers to assess the damage. The Kentucky Heritage Council also helped by providing free architect work. However, the building was deemed unsafe to preserve.
At the time, the building housed two certified public accountant firms. A law office and an apartment were also part of the building.
One hundred and twenty-one jobs were displaced in the collapse, according to the chamber report’s summary.
A month after the Gatlin Building collapse, the Murray Fire Department responded to a partial roof collapse at 117 S. 4th St. The building was built 124 years ago.
Main, 5th, and Maple streets were closed to all traffic. Marla Thompson, owner of The Cake Lady, said her business was affected immediately because her business had multiple orders to deliver and a wedding to cater. Main and 5th streets have since been opened, but Maple Street remained closed.
One million gallons of water were used to extinguish the fire at Wilson’s Florist on July 23.
The fire reached the twin building at 116 S. 5th St., which housed Profiles Hair Salon and Spiced Boutique. It then spread directly behind Wilson’s Florist to the Tucker building on Maple Street.
Three buildings were destroyed, five businesses were closed indefinitely and 37 jobs were displaced in the fire. $1,265,150 worth of property value was lost in the fire, according to the summary.
Becca Kilby, senior from Murray, said it saddens her to see the place where she grew up experience so much damage.
“It’s sad that it is falling apart,” Kilby said.
She said growing up she would walk down to the court square to buy a drink and visit friends. “There’s more memories for me there than any other part of town,” she said.
Wilson’s Florist was a 4,000 square foot structure built in the early 1920s. The Tucker building was built 66 years ago on 15,000 square feet of historic property. The Tucker building then housed the CPA firm of Thurman Campbell Group.
DOWNTOWN IS ‘OPEN FOR BUSINESS’
The Murray Main Street Program and The Murray-Calloway County Chamber of Commerce launched their “Downtown is Open for Business” campaign in February with help from the Murray Convention and Visitors Bureau. Their mission is to keep downtown business strong, keep downtown alive and keep people shopping local.
Deana Wright of the Murray Main Street Program said she is glad they pushed that campaign forward.
“It made a big splash with social media,” she said. “The businesses in downtown will take a few months to get back to where they were. I can’t say they are completely back.”
Kilby said she didn’t usually go on that side of town because she is driving toward the University, but that downtown should be more interesting for college students.
“There’s a need for revitalization of the downtown area,” she said.
Story by Mari-Alice Jasper, Staff writer