An overnight fire in the North Avenue Historic District destroyed one storefront and was still smoldering by mid-morning. The building once housed the Rydberg family's well-known Plainfield Music Store, now relocated across the street under the ownership of Vicky Griswold.
Several years ago, a longtime employee of the store who lived in an apartment above the store was found murdered. The building was currently vacant except for one restaurant and had been boarded up by the city (note the plywood remaining over the white door at the right).. But last week, Plaintalker saw evidence of someone breaking into the store.
The glass in the window at left had been broken out and the door also had broken glass.
This photo from last May shows the "No Trespassing" order from the city, along with a makeshift covering taped to the broken store window.
On the same date in May, open windows above, one with a curtain fluttering out, suggest that someone was inside.Early word today is that no one was found inside the building after the fire.
In a fire on East Fourth Street barely a day ago, a homeless woman lost her life. UPDATE: She is on life support, officials said today. That tragedy plus the evidence of squatters in the North Avenue building makes us hope that homeless people will seek help and maybe social service agencies will meet them halfway with some kind of outreach as winter sets in.
As a pedestrian, I see many examples of vacant and boarded buildings that have people inside, including two on East Sixth Street, just off Park Avenue. A lawyer in our neighborhood found evidence of people sleeping on his office porch and the former dental office across from City Hall that had squatters again has blankets and quilts piled on the porch.
Squatters who are trying to stay warm inside vacant buildings are not only a danger to themselves, they can cause fires that result in property loss and danger to public safety responders. Before its collapse, another building on North Avenue was marked as a hazard unsafe for entry by firefighters.
The destroyed restaurant on East Fourth Street is now in the same dangerous condition.
While some of us are out shopping and getting ready for the holidays, there are desperate individuals among us who need the most basic kind of help. We hope they will get it.