Dear Friends and Media,
Thankfully, the City apparently halted the demolition of 324 S. El Paso Street, at least for the moment. The demo equipment is still parked in front of the building and the street is blocked off.
Dr. Gil Holland is the son of the late Sal Holland and the new owner of the Holland’s Building next door. Today he wrote to the Fire Chief and Fire Marshal with his concern that demolishing the neighboring structure could harm his property. Considering that the Holland’s Building is almost 140 years old, his concerns are justified!
Dr. Holland is correct that preserving the historical appearance of the oldest street in El Paso is “of utmost priority.”
Please save at least the facade of the burned building!
See our correspondence below.
GIL HOLLAND TO FIRE CHIEF AND FIRE MARSHAL
Hello Fire Chief Killings and Fire Marshal Valencia,
I represent my late father’s estate as an executor. I have concern with the proposed demolition of 324 S El Paso with regard as to how this might affect the structural integrity of 402 S El Paso (my family’s building) as well as the potential damage it could cause to our façade. El Paso Street is one of the oldest streets- if not the oldest- in the city of El Paso, and preserving its historical appearance should be of utmost priority.
At very least, without given assurances that my building will not be further damaged, I cannot agree nor will I consent with the neighboring building’s demolition.
Gil M Holland, MD
MAX GROSSMAN TO FIRE CHIEF AND FIRE MARSHAL
Dear Fire Chief Killings and Fire Marshal Valencia,
I am an architectural historian and a Director of the non-profit Preservation Texas in Austin. I am extremely concerned about your plans to demolish 324 S. El Paso Street, a historic building erected in 1885.
The building consists of load-bearing brick walls, and although the roof and flooring were burned in the fire 8 days ago, I do not see an imminent danger of structural collapse, though I am not a structural engineer. I viewed the building from the roof next door and saw that the walls survive to their full height, with some damage to the upper part of the north wall. The brick walls are not warped and have no structural fissures or defects that I can see.
It would be very important to preserve the facade of 324 S. El Paso Street in order to maintain the architectural character of our most historic street, on which the City has invested many millions of dollars in improvements in recent years.
Moreover, there is concern that demolishing the building could undermine the structural stability of the Holland’s Building next door, built in 1883 and also consisting of load-bearing brick walls. The fact that the two buildings share a brick wall that is about 140 years old is very concerning.
I am hopeful that you will, at a minimum, consider ordering that the facade be structurally reinforced and that you will leave at least that portion of the building intact, so that a new structure can be erected behind it and the visual character of South El Paso Street maintained.
I am hoping that the owner, Chun Mei Chuang, can be informed that there are pragmatic alternatives to total demolition and that historic tax credits could reduce the cost of restoration.
Many thanks for your consideration.
Respectfully yours, with gratitude for your service to our community,
Max Grossman, PhD
Board of Directors, Preservation Texas