Guthrie city leaders decide damaged historic buildings must be torn down

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GUTHRIE, Okla. – City leaders in Guthrie say despite efforts to save a pair of historic buildings, they are simply too damaged to be repaired.

In February, a large fire destroyed two iconic businesses in downtown Guthrie and caused damage to a third.

“It’s a key piece of Guthrie’s identity,” James Long, a downtown Guthrie business owner, told News 4.

When Long saw the massive flames shooting from two buildings near his business, he called 911 and knew he had to act fact.

“I couldn’t find anything. I was looking for a building that had a water spigot or a water hose. I couldn’t find anything. The fire actually started on the back patio or the back porch of the Furrows Flower Shop here in town,” Long said.

Fire crews from all over Logan County rushed to the scene. Fire officials say the strong winds caused the fire to quickly spread through the Furrow Flower Shop and Double Stop Fiddle Shop.

During a Guthrie City Council meeting in June, council members discussed the future of the buildings.

Both of the buildings are owned by Byron Berline, who recently raised funds to open a new fiddle shop in Guthrie.

City council members said that either Berline or a private investor could restore the buildings, or the city could demolish them.

“I want this building to be resurrected if at all possible,” Berline said during the meeting, according to the Guthrie News Page. “Betty and I can’t afford to do it. We want to keep going. That is why we bought another building straight east. I hate to see it demolished, but if it has to be that’s what it would be.”

However, other members of the community said they were ready to step up and pay for repairs. The council ultimately voted to allow organizers time to create a plan to repair the buildings.

On Monday night, severe storms moved through much of the state and caused even more damage to the crumbling structures.

“I was having hopes that it might be able to be put back together, but this kind of solidifies that it won’t be the way it was,” Berline told News 4 on Tuesday.

On Thursday, the Guthrie City Council held an emergency meeting where they decided both buildings are a hazard and must be torn down.

At this point, there is no word on an exact date for the demolition.

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