GREENVILLE, Ky. (WEHT) As Greenville firefighters continue their investigation into last Thursday’s fire at two long standing buildings, we’re learning more about the history behind the two structures and the loss of a historic part of the community.
Last Thursday’s fire lead to the destruction of two buildings that were both more than a century old. Local historians say it’s a loss for both the community, and the county’s history.
The fire, followed by the demolition, lasted most of last Thursday. Hundreds of years of history, gone in one day.
“It’s significant enough that I can’t really even put my head around it at this point,” said local historian Barry Duvall.
“We are lucky there was no loss of life, but it still hurts to lose the buildings,” added Amy Walters, archivist for the Muhlenberg Co. Public Library.
Local historians say the Summers building was built around 1872 by Thomas Summers, and sat at the intersection of East Main Cross and Main Street. It’s also considered by some one of the oldest buildings in the county. It’s housed businesses ranging from banks to most recently a cafe. Walters says according to local legend that some dispute, Summers built the building as a way to get a woman to marry him.
“Originally, he built one story and she still said no, and he added another story, she said no. By the time he got to the third story, she agreed to marry him,” she explained.
“There’s a few fallacies around it. I’ve never really endorsed it, even though my history heroes past that story down,” added Duvall.
Next door was the Rogers building. Walters says it was built around 1906 by J.L. Rogers, and also had different businesses over the years. Walters and other local historians, like Duvall, say last week’s fire is the latest disaster to take away a part of downtown’s history.
“The Summers building has actually been plagued by fire. I know of two times. It was damaged in the 1898 fire, which pretty much destroyed that whole block, except that building,” said Duvall.
“We’ve lost so many of our downtown buildings already to disasters, or just decay, and with that one being the oldest remaining one, the Summers building, it hurts,” said Walters.
Both Walters and Duvall tell us that there are efforts underway to preserve the history of both of those buildings long after the site is clear.
As for the site itself, the owner of the two buildings says debris removal could start in at least a few weeks, since they’re still in the planning stages and have to clear a few hurdles before debris removal can start.
(This story was originally published on April 11, 2022)