Cause of partial building collapse under investigation

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KPLR) – The building at 612 North Second Street on the Landing is still closed after a wall gave way. No one was injured but many questions remain.

It was the great St. Louis fire of 1849 that destroyed much of this river town and turned it into a brick city. Wednesday afternoon, some of those historic bricks came tumbling down. WHile experts try to determine what caused the collapse, the building`s owner and businesses on the Landing are banding together to rebuild it, brick by brick.

Building owner Munsok met with experts, engineers and insurance agents to determine the cause of the collapse of part of his building. He promised Thursday to rebuild part of this city`s history.

“His number one priority is safety, figuring out what caused it, what needs to be done to prevent it from happening in the future and then he`s going to rebuild.” said Executive Director Landing Neighborhood Association Laura Tobey.

Owners spent part of Thursday morning collecting purses, keys and computers for the employees who had to leave suddenly after Wednesday’s collapse.

“They got out with nothing. So immediately everybody was done here making sure they had water and hydrated and had everything they needed. So already the businesses that are located in that building have are meeting today about where they`re going to relocate here on the landing. Cause businesses that are down here are committed to being down here.” said Laura Tobey.

It`s that history that is part of the charm of the Landing, but also what could have been chiseling away at this structure.

“First off you got a highway and a railroad that are not far so the shaking and vibrations over a century or more.” said Scott Mosby.

Scott Mosby is a building scientist who had some theories on what could have contributed to the collapse. The building, once owned by Henry Shaw, who most St. Louisans know as the founder of the Missouri Botanical Garden, has been home to a number of businesses on the banks of the Mississippi.

“Could be a little bit of vibration could be a little bit of moisture absorption which then attacks the mortar or the glue between the bricks. Then indeed you have a little bit of structural movement maybe a tiny bit from the foundation.” said Scott Mosby.

While the building was up to code, bricks used to construct it 155 years ago were packed by hand instead of heavy machinery. Whether it was moisture from old man river, humidity in the air or simply time, Mosby says this incident is a lesson any business or home owner can learn from.

“Mother Nature is driving us all back to dust. She`s undefeated. All we`re doing is negotiating the length of time, we`re stalling that occurrence. So again, 150 years, masonry structure, it started out as clay on the ground, you know Mother Nature is trying to make it clay on the ground once more.” said Scott Mosby.

The Laclede’s Landing Metrolink Station reopened around 3pm with regular service. However second street entrance and elevator remained closed so you’ll have to enter on the first street side.

The next three weeks will be busy. Starting the 22nd there is a car show, taste of the city at Lumiere and then the 20th annual Big Muddy Blues Festival.