by Michael R. Allen
These photographs date to December 9, 2006 and show the post-fire conditions of the interiors and rooftops of the sections of the Brecht buildings built in 1890 and 1897. Since the section built in 1900 is not condemned and free of any fire damage, it is omitted here.
FIRST BUILDING (BUILT 1890)
The first floor of the original building shows no signs of fire damage — just clutter and debris left by former occupants and squatters.
The worst fire damage in this section is on the sceond floor, where a partly-opened fire door allowed flames to reach the acoustic ceiling tiles, which show heavy surface burning. Some wooden partitions at right burned. View looking south.
The third floor, looking south. No fire damage here.
The fourth floor, looking south. There are few traces of fire damage here.
Here is a typical post and beam connection in the building. All visible connections show good structural integrity. This is on the fourth floor.
Here’s another view of the fourth floor, looking north.
As this photo shows, the roof of the original section is intact save normal deterioration. Note the mostly solid parapet wall at right.
The terra cotta parapet on the Cass Avenue elevation lost some pieces due to the pressurized water spray of firefighters’ hoses, but is otherwise stable with fairly solid mortar joints throughout.
FIRST ADDITION (BUILT 1897)
View looking southwest through a fire door opening between the first building and the 1897 addition. Note that some structural members, although compromised, remain tied into the front elevation on Cass Avenue. The masonry walls are solid although the collapse of roof structures led to some damage.
A closer look at some of the remaining structural members of the 1897 addition shows salvageable condition.
View southwest from the roof of the 1890 building.
View to the west shows damage to the west parapet wall of the original building. Note that only the top seven courses and coping tiles collapsed, and that the wall is solid below. Temporary coping could protect this wall from moisture until rebuilding occurs.
View to the northwest shows the collapsed section of the north wall facing toward the recess. The adjacent walls of the wings seems solid.
This view west across the terra cotta parapet of the 1897 addition shows a fairly straight shape, altered by normal bowing in masonry walls. No major movement has occurred since the fire. Steel bracing could keep the wall from moving further as debris is cleared from the interior.