Hopkinsville Fire Department was called to the offices of Hicks & Demps Attorneys at Law Saturday morning to investigate reports that the building at 500 S. Main St. might be collapsing.
Streets between Fourth and Sixth were blocked off as the building was investigated and the area was cleared of debris and secured.
Official photos from the fire department and early onsite reports showed that bricks were falling from the top side of the building onto the sidewalk, posing potential danger to passersby.
Attorney Katherine Hicks Demps, who owns the building with her father, Daniel Carter Hicks, was on site Saturday afternoon assessing the damage.
Demps said Kate Russell, owner of Hopkinsville Brewing Co., called her Saturday morning about the damage to the building exterior.
Demps said her office is in the top right corner of the building with wingback chairs situated against the damaged wall, across from her desk.
“When I got the call, I was actually envisioning those (chairs) hanging out the front or that we were shifting or sliding down the hill. I had no idea,” she said. “I’m not glad by any means, but I’m certainly a little relieved from the initial report.”
Demps said no damage appeared to be inside the building.
“There are no cracks or anything in the walls or the ceiling,” she said. “It appears to be the (exterior) brick facade. It’s not looking like it’s anything structural with the building.”
She said the gas and electricity were turned off to the building initially.
“Not knowing the extent, they wanted to make sure a fire didn’t start,” she said.
By early afternoon, David East of East Construction had begun removing the yellow brick facade off the top half of the building’s damaged side to ensure the safety of anyone walking on the sidewalk down South Main.
“Structurally the building is fine,” he said. “With this old brick, the mortar just weathers away. This has happened before. We have done this on several buildings.”
East speculated that years of water damage from rain may have caused the erosion of the mortar.
Although she does not know the age of the building, Demps said her father has practiced law at this downtown location since the mid-1980s.
Demps was unsure if the building would need to be inspected or when her office would reopen. Although many meetings are being conducted virtually because of COVID-19, Demps said she likes working from her office.
“A lot of things are being done by Zoom now, but I do prefer to be in my office setting,” Demps said. “I love downtown. I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.”