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Despite Loss of Historic Building, Princeton Striving for Continued Growth

A massive fire destroyed much of the historic Elks Lodge building in downtown Princeton on Thanksgiving morning. City officials say the fire came as the city's downtown showed signs of momentum.

Fire officials are waiting to get more information from the insurance company as to what will be done with the building. Officials say the fire started in the ceiling above the kitchen and banquet area but firefighters were able to keep the fire to spreading to the rest of the historic building.

Meanwhile, city officials say the fire at the building located just off of the town square comes at a time where the downtown area showed signs of momentum. City officials say it came as the city's downtown showed signs of momentum.

Princeton Mayor Bob Hurst has embarked on a number of extensive initiatives the past eight years, including the renovation of the old movie theatre, a new $3 million pool, and earning the 'Stellar Community' distinction from the state.  

Plans and schematics litter Mayor Hurst's office while some vacant storefronts litter the town square. Mayor Hurst says fighting to trim down the number of abandoned and blighted properties has been a priority.

"[The vacancy rate]  was probably 30% to 40$ when we first got in here," Mayor Hurst said. "Now it's 10%. It just takes time and you have to look at the big picture and work toward it."

Now, crews are working toward something else. 

Destroyed by fire and covered in soot, there's a historic building which dates back to the 1800s now stands in ruin just a stone's throw away from the Princeton Mayor's Office.

News of the massive fire on Thanksgiving morning at the Elks Lodge spread quickly.

"I'm an elk and I've been one for 30 something years," Mayor Hurst said. "When I pulled up on Friday morning, one of the guys said, 'I think your dues just went up.'"

"Right now the investigation is still pending," said Princeton Fire Territory Chief Mike Pflug. "We're still waiting to hear back from the insurance company to hear what we're going to do next. It could have gone up like a roman candle had it gotten into that main portion of the building."


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