St. Joseph, Mo. Protesters planned a candelight vigil for a historic hotel that was being demolished despite efforts to save the 120-year-old building.
A demolition crew from Madget & Griffin Inc. began wrecking the south side of the historic hotel Monday afternoon.
Eerily befitting Monday's events, a rusting coffin taken out of the St. Charles hotel lay just feet away from the building just before the demolition got under way.
Rusty Fitzsimmons, a former owner of the building, said he bought the empty coffin at a gas station for $35 several years ago and never got around to doing anything with it. The hotel and the coffin seemed to deteriorate at an even pace, Fitzsimmons said.
Kendall Randolph, the current owner of the St. Charles, slated the building for demolition to make room for the expansion of his business, Sunshine Electronic Display Corp.
Ann Stephens, president of Preservation Inc., said her group worked to buy the building for three years and had plans to renovate but never acquired ownership.
"You can't just throw your heritage away," she said."We can't keep losing these buildings. We need everybody's cooperation to save them."
She said the demolition began earlier than expected, but a candlelight vigil in honor of the last historic hotel downtown was still planned for 7:30 p.m. today.
"I think he (Mr. Randolph) sped it up once they found out we were planning to have a vigil," Stephens said. "It's a sad day for St. Joseph and a sad day for Preservation Inc."
Andrew Madget, president of Madget & Griffin Inc., said the original wrecking date never was changed.