Mayor defends decision to demolish Masonic Temple

Published: Mar. 19, 2018 at 7:57 PM AKDT
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The Masonic Temple on First Avenue became the second building to have its roof collapse late last week at the tail end of an abnormally snowy winter in Fairbanks.

Just after 2 PM Saturday, the south side of the building collapsed, with most of the damage appearing confined to the top floor.

But ultimately, the city made the call to demolish the building because of fears it was structurally unstable.

A wrecking crew tore down the 112-year-old Fairbanks landmark Saturday night.

The building, which was on the National Register of Historic Places, was one of the oldest surviving buildings from early Fairbanks.

On a visit to Alaska in 1923, President Warren Harding delivered an address from its front steps.

City Mayor Jim Matherly addressed controversy over the building's demolition Sunday on social media, saying the ultimate decision on the building's fate was made by property owner Harold Groetsema.

Mayor Jim Matherly; City of Fairbanks>>: "I understand fully the emotions around an old building, a national historic registered building but, because of the collapse, the owner has the right to secure that building. The city jumped in right away to do what we could to make sure it was safe and then we stop at a certain point, which we did, and we turned everything over to the owner, and he's aware of it, we talked to him on site.and then his insurance that he's going to get billed. He's paying the bill. There's a lot of talk going on on Facebook about this. He's paying for the take down of the building and insurance is taking care of it. Him, not the city, so the taxpayers need to know that."

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