Preservation efforts certainly took it on the chin this week with news of a possible emergency demo at Saint Mary’s on the Hill, and then news that this morning at 3am a two-alarm fire broke out at the Richardson-Olmsted Complex. Monica Pellegrino Faix, Project Coordinator at the Richardson Center Corporation, has issued the following statement:
“This morning’s fire at the Richardson Olmsted Complex was unfortunate. We are saddened about the building damage but are glad no one was hurt. Work to seal up the building will take place and we and will continue to advance the first phase of redevelopment”.
At this point, people are speculating that arson might be the reason for the fire, since the blaze was started on the second floor, and at such an odd time. If arson is the cause, it would be unfortunate to find that with all of the recent efforts to stabilize the structure, a preventable oversight such as accessibility into the building was to blame. Fire officials are reporting that the blaze was difficult to control due to unfamiliarity with a building that has been boarded up for 30 years. We are awaiting news regarding damage reports.
Update: Stopped by the site @ 2pm and noticed that the second floor windows of the Administration Building have been smashed out and the smell of smoke still hangs in the air. Other than that, no activity whatsoever. From what I can recall, this is the only building that had any sort of intact architectural elements such as wooden stair case and railings, etc. How is it that only now, after 30 years of being boarded up with money finally being allocated to the National Historic Landmark, there is a fire?