The End

De­mo­li­tion crew brings down John Nash Build­ing

The Progress-Index - - FRONT PAGE - By Sean Jones Staff Writer PHOTO BY KENT NEW­TON] [CONTRIBUTED

PETERS­BURG — Af­ter 208 years, sur­viv­ing the tor­nado of 1993, and be­ing struck with a can­non ball, the John Nash build­ing fi­nally met its end at the hands of ag­ing. Its' boarded win­dows and crum­bling mor­tar were ripped down on Tues­day morn­ing un­der the su­per­vi­sion of John H. Hines, Build­ing Of­fi­cial of the City's Code Com­pli­ance Of­fice.

An ex­ca­va­tor scraped at foot-thick brick walls, ex­pos­ing the Nash’s in­te­rior. It re­vealed hand­crafted iron fire­places, an­tique wooden doors and the in­te­rior arch­way it be­came fa­mous for. The Nash Build­ing was the first struc­ture in Vir­ginia to have a sup­port­ing arch above the ground floor, pre­dat­ing a sec­ond-floor arch in­side the Gov­er­nor’s Man­sion in Rich­mond.

The build­ing’s own­ers be­came aware of the build­ing's in­sta­bil­ity on Dec. 7, 2018, when an in­spec­tor went in to eval­u­ate be­fore the own­ers started some work on the build­ing. The in­spec­tor told the own­ers – Bank Street LLC – that the Nash was in a dan­ger­ous state. Peters­burg was alerted and the City Build­ing Of­fi­cial did an in­spec­tion. Hines con­cluded that the struc­ture was a threat to pub­lic safety and needed sta­bi­liza­tion or de­mo­li­tion.

The Peters­burg Preser­va­tion Task Force launched a two-week cam­paign to try and res­cue the build­ing, hav­ing also been no­ti­fied by the own­ers on

Dec. 7. They held a meet­ing with 25 “con­cerned cit­i­zens.” The cost for sta­bi­liza­tion was es­ti­mated be­tween $250,000 to $350,000. The Task Force could only raise a to­tal of $150,000 by the end of the month.

By the coun­cil meet­ing on Jan. 3, five of the coun­cil mem­bers had enough. The road out­side 127 W. Bank Street had been blocked off by fence and po­lice tape for nearly a month, hin­der­ing the park­ing and ac­cess to busi­nesses on that street. They voted 5-2 to de­mol­ish the build­ing, at the op­po­si­tion of Coun­cil­man Charles Cuth­bert, whose district con­tains the Nash Build­ing.

De­mo­li­tion was orig­i­nally sched­uled for Mon­day but prob­lems with the equip­ment pushed the process back an­other day.

The Nash Build­ing didn’t give up with­out a fight Tues­day. The ex­ca­va­tor’s hy­draulic line was sev­ered by de­bris when it pulled at the last stand­ing brick wall on the build­ing’s west side.

Dozens of peo­ple came to wit­ness the spectacle of a his­toric struc­ture meet­ing its end. Carolyn Tinch-Carter stood among the crowd, watch­ing the de­struc­tion of the build­ing that held so many of her child­hood mem­o­ries.

“It’s re­ally emo­tional to see this,” Tinch-Carter said, “That build­ing sup­ported two fam­i­lies for over 50 years. We put blood sweat and tears into that busi­ness.”

Carter’s grand­fa­ther, Pete Wilson, bought the Nash Build­ing in 1940 and opened a fur­ni­ture store on its first floor. Carter’s grand­fa­ther passed away in 1960, leav­ing the fur­ni­ture busi­ness to her fa­ther who kept it open un­til 1988.

“A lot of mil­i­tary used to come in from Fort Lee to buy fur­ni­ture. They didn’t call my daddy ‘Mr. Tinch,’ they used to call him Mr. ‘Cut-rate,’” Tinch-Carter said.

The now torn-down boarded win­dows in the front served as the store’s show­room, with of­fices flank­ing both sides. Fur­ni­ture was stored in the front while the back of the build­ing was used to fin­ish fur­ni­ture.

The build­ing used to have a cov­ered ex­te­rior stair­case that brought ten­ants into the up­per level apart­ments. TinchCarter’s fam­ily had it re­moved in the '70s af­ter the last ten­ant moved out. She said the third story was prob­a­bly un­used since that time.

Tinch-Carter said she hadn’t seen the in­side of the build­ing since her fam­ily sold it in 1988. As the de­mo­li­tion pro­gressed, she saw the in­te­rior doors and arch­way for the first time in over 30 years.

It was the fi­nal time any­one would ever wit­ness the dou­ble par­lor, split with a sec­ond-story arch­way.

The de­mo­li­tion crew has fin­ished pulling down the fourth ex­te­rior wall. Bank Street has been re­opened to traf­fic with the park­ing lot still blocked by de­bris.

PROGRESS-IN­DEX.COM] [SEAN JONES/

Front of the John Nash Build­ing on 127 W. Bank St. shortly af­ter the south­east cor­ner was pulled down by an ex­ca­va­tor.

[CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY KENT NEW­TON]

A view of the in­te­rior arch that made the Nash Build­ing’s ar­chi­tec­tural im­por­tance. It was the first sec­ond-story arch in the Vir­ginia, pre­dat­ing the sec­ond story arch in­side the Gov­er­nor’s Man­sion in Rich­mond.

The Nash Build­ing’s front façade top­ples to the ground af­ter it stood for 208 years.

PROGRESS-IN­DEX.COM] [SEAN JONES/

The back­side of the John Nash Build­ing is de­mol­ished on Tues­day, Jan. 8.

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