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Updated March 17. A fire in the late evening hours of March 15 essentially destroyed the house at 1560 Oak Ave., and the building is in the process of being demolished.
The fire was reported shortly after 11 p.m. on March 15; firefighters struck it by midnight.
Damage was limited to the 1560 Oak structure, and firefighters were able to protect the adjacent five-story hotel and commercial building that houses the Margarita European Inn and Pensiero Ristorante. Guests were allowed to return by 1 a.m. March 16, according to the fire department.
City fire investigators completed the preliminary investigation on March 16, and turned the building back over to the property owners for further investigation by their insurance company.
At a Fourth Ward meeting on March 16, Chief Klaiber said he had made the decision to demolish the building because it was unsafe, particularly with a “30-foot, free-standing chimney.”
Construction, with permits from the City, had been ongoing at the house, and Chief Klaiber said there was “a lot activity” in the previous few days before the fire.
He added that, although the cause of the fire is still under investigation, the fire department is “not at this point suspicious.”
He added, “It is a testament to the firefighters that the adjacent building was protected.”
The 1560 Oak building, a local landmark, once housed the Catholic Women’s Club. The new owner was renovating the building to turn it into a museum, reportedly for timepieces.