Today I visited the historic building at 324 S. El Paso St. that burned one week ago. There is demolition equipment in front of the structure and the street is closed to vehicular traffic. The workers on site told me that because the wooden roof and flooring have burned, there is a danger of structural collapse, so the fire marshal ordered the demolition for tonight.
The Sanborn insurance maps show that the building was erected in 1885, right next door to the headquarters of El Paso County (now the Holland’s Building). Mark Stone of The Trost Society determined that the architect was John J. Stewart, one of the key early architects of our city. It was owned by William J. Hills, one of the early pioneers, and first occupied by Emerson & Berrien, which sold furniture and coffins.
I visited the site with Gil Holland, the son of Sal Holland, and we had the opportunity to visit his property. From the roof we had amn unobstructed view of the fire damage next door.
I wish the owner, Chun Mei Chuang, would consider saving the facade, perhaps building a new structure behind it, so as to preserve the historic character of El Paso Street.
I was joined today by Shawn Felice of KVIA, which will be airing a report today or tomorrow.