Sidewalk by former Butler museum closed again

Loose bricks on east side reported

SALEM — Part of the sidewalk in front of the former TanFastic site and former Butler museum building is barricaded once again after a fallen brick was reported, but Mayor John Berlin said Friday he was told the property may be transferred soon and repaired.

Even if something doesn’t develop soon, he said “I don’t think it would take much to secure that wall.”

The area in question is the corner of the east wall which had been part of the TanFastic building and attached to the Butler building.

According to a fire report at 3:25 p.m. Thursday at 343 E. State St., the department was notified of possible bricks falling from the structure. Upon arrival, it was found that a brick had fallen onto the sidewalk and several bricks still on the structure did not look secure so the sidewalk was closed with a barricade.

Berlin said he was the one who called the fire department to have the building checked after he was contacted by the Columbiana County land bank executive director Robert Ritchey. The land bank is the listed owner of the property and he reportedly told the mayor that someone called him about a brick on the sidewalk. He asked the mayor if someone could check it out.

The Butler building where the museum used to be located has sat empty for several years. The museum had to close to make repairs after bricks fell from the former TanFastic building and caused damage. The museum reopened briefly then closed for good after bricks continued to fall onto the roof, causing more damage.

The city made efforts to shore up the wall on the TanFastic building while in a legal battle with the owners, but in 2015, part of the roof collapsed into the building and a hole opened up on the south wall. The city ended up paying to demolish the TanFastic building as a safety hazard, but during the demolition, a large section of the west wall collapsed onto the Butler roof, breaking through to the first floor and into the basement. The city bought the building on the other side to the east of the TanFastic and tore it down, too. A third building to the east was eventually taken down by its owner. All three lots are vacant next to the former Butler, which had limited repairs.

To try to make the area look more presentable, a barrier wall containing art by famed Salem graduate Charles Burchfield was put up along the sidewalk to block the empty lots and remains in place today.

There’s been talk about potential development of the city-owned lot, the TanFastic lot and the Butler, but nothing’s happened to date.

According to Berlin, there’s been “something in the wind” the last few months which he’s hoping will take place.

He said he’ll be staying in contact with Ritchey and if something needs done to the wall sooner to take off some of the loose bricks, they’ll work something out with one of the city departments.