Owners of collapsed Portsmouth building ready to rebuild

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February 07 2021 06:00 pm

PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (WOWK) – Maddie Burnside and her husband, Jeremy, own the building on 2nd Street in Portsmouth, Ohio that came crashing down Saturday evening.

“It’s like a kick in the gut,” Maddie said.

“We’re not really sure what happened,” Jeremy said. “I know there was a bad wind storm, I think, the day before the front of the building collapsed.”

No injuries were reported, in part, because that section of the street had been blocked. Portsmouth City Manager Sam Sutherland says he was alerted Saturday there were some bricks that came loose so the city decided to close that portion of the street before the collapse happened.

“It actually is pretty heartbreaking to see it, especially when this wasn’t in our plan,” Jeremy said.

Maddie and Jeremy’s plan is to restore the building and the one next to it. Jeremy says the buildings have historic value, both being part of the Underground Railroad. Jeremy says the building that collapsed had a barbershop in it in the mid-1800s that was operated by J. J. Minor, an abolitionist, which was a front for the Underground Railroad. The history that builds where Jeremy stands Monday morning is why he and his wife are devoted to protecting the building.

“Luckily, I married somebody who loves Portsmouth as much as I do and we kinda decided we’re going to make a commitment to restoring these buildings,” Maddie said.

The city manager says so far they believe the building is still preservable. Jeremy and his wife say it’s now a waiting game until the building is safe again.

“As soon as he gets word on what we need to do structurally, it’s all systems go,” Jeremy said. “I’d like to get that rebuilt as quickly as possible.”

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