Main Street has architect look at fire damage

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By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

An architect who specializes in historical structures believes that at least part of two buildings damaged by the fire in downtown Vandalia last month can be salvaged.

Through its affiliation with Illinois Main Street, Vandalia Main Street was able to bring Gail White to town on Monday afternoon.

White works for White and Borgognoni Architects in Carbondale and is a regional adviser for Landmarks of Illinois, an organization that supports historic preservation in the state.

Those meeting with White included owners of two downtown buildings in the 300 block of West Gallatin Street damaged by the Feb. 23 fire – Dennis Gerkin, and Pat and Kenny Gathe.

White said that while the building which housed Donaldson’s Carpet was completely destroyed by the fire, there are parts of the Gathe and Gerkin buildings that could be saved. The fire also destroyed Cages, which was located south of the carpet and flooring business.

“Obviously, the damage is extensive to the State Farm (Gerkin’s) building, but there is some potential to save the facade and a portion of the building behind it,” White said.

“With the Gathe building, there is some potential to retain all or a portion of the facade to retain the historical aspect of it (if there is a decision to rebuild),” he said.