Ypsi’s Thompson block has burned down

If you were awoken early this morning by the sounds of sirens and helicopters, as I was, here’s the reason why… It looks as though Ypsi’s historic Thompson block has burned down.

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The redevelopment of the historic property, that one time served as Civil War barracks, after several years of ownership by infamous Ypsilanti landlord David Kircher, was most recently being undertaken by Stewart Beal. To my knowledge, the building had been vacant during this period, as Beal sought financing for the stalled project.

There are some in the community who thought the building was beyond repair to begin with. I, however, was hopeful that something could be done. Now, I guess, we’ll never know.

This building’s loss is a huge one for our resurgent community.

[Photos courtesy Councilman Pete Murdock.]

update:

hpim0972

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94 Comments

  1. Suzie
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 6:12 am | Permalink

    *gasp* that’s terrible.

  2. Quackenbush
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    That is so sad! I wonder what the cause was. . .

    I can’t believe I slept through that.

  3. Posted September 23, 2009 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    “I can’t believe I slept through that”

    ditto!

    That’s one way to resolve a controversy.

  4. Posted September 23, 2009 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    did not sleep through it…windows were open and could smell something being lost for sure. Thank you Mark. I awoke wondering how to find out about this and went here to see if you had posted something. Grateful for this source of communique and sad the building has left the city.

  5. kjc
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    ditto again. wow.

  6. John Delcamp
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    The building is a total loss as the brick and mortal has been weakened by the intense heat. Part of the wall in the rear section facing the auto museum has collapsed. Arson is suspect. Mr. Beal my not have had fire insurance, as it is almost impossible to get for vacant buildings, though I hope otherwise. The Thompson Block was 149 years old. Truly a sad day for historic preservation.

  7. Glen S.
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    I just walked down to see … and I almost can’t believe it.

    What a terrible loss for Depot Town, and for Ypsilanti.

    I hope it is possible that some part of the building can be salvaged and/or reconstructed.

  8. Ms. A
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    I can’t say how bad I feel for Stewart Beal. He took a big risk and tons of his own money to give depot town what they wanted… no one else was brave enough to take this project on. I hope it wasn’t arson, that is to scary in a historic area with lots of old buildings. Thanks to Mark and Mr. Murdock for sharing with the community this awful news.

  9. p
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    Just saw this this morning, horrible news. It breaks my heart to see such a building lost especially if arson was involved.

    I’m surprised I didn’t notice, I live a few blocks away and was up late- maybe i’m just too used to sirens now.

    good luck to Beal, maybe he can at least save something of it :(

  10. Kim T
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    I wouldn’t want to be in Beal’s shoes today. There’s going to be an investigation, and, given that he’s the owner, and that the development has been stalled for so long, there are going to be questions about insurance fraud.

  11. Fred Thoms
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    Does anyone know how, if at all, the efforts to save the building were impacted by recent changes in fire fighting policy due to funding cuts?

    One hopes none of our brave firefighters were injured in this.

  12. Christine M
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    Wow that is sad. I had fantasies/dreams of opening a little store in that building.

  13. Christine M
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    ok I have to ask, did you get up in the middle of the night to take these photos?

  14. KB
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    I’m glad to see it made someone happy. Why is that lady laughing about it?

  15. Alicia
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    for those of us less familar with the Ypsi neighborhoods, where is the Thompson block relative to, say, Depot Town or downtown?

  16. Mr. X
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    The Ypsi Citizen now has a story up:

    http://ypsiciti.com/section/News/Fire+destroys+Thompson+Block-article-1205.html

    According to the story, no firefighters were injured. They did note, however: “They were just stepping on the second floor when the roof collapsed.”

    If it was started purposefully, someone got very, very lucky that no one was hurt.

    But, it looks like there may not be an investigation. The following also comes from the Ypsi Citizen:

    Captain Max Anthouard said the cause of the fire is not known. He said the cause may never be known as the structure of the building is not stable enough to investigate.

  17. Dee
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Yea i cant believe that this building burnt down… Ive passed that building many times when going to the heritage festival…. they were doing resteration projects to it so who knows what the cause is.

  18. Posted September 23, 2009 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    What a heartbreaking site this was this morning. I have hoped that something great would be done with this beautiful building. Thanks for the story Mark.

  19. Posted September 23, 2009 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    Sounded like a helicopter attack this morning. I wonder if that was related. This is a major blow to those who believe in Depot Town (and history).

  20. Camera Girl
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Ann Arbor dotcom has it now too. And they’re quoting the fire chief as saying it’s “suspicious”.

    http://www.annarbor.com/news/large-fire-guts-historic-building-in-ypsilantis-depot-town/

  21. Linda
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    This is heartbreaking. Fred and Stewart Beal were at the scene last night asking the firemen to limit the damage that has already been done to the building. Sounds like they want to rebuild.

  22. Ms. A
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    I just wanted to add that the Ypsilanti fire department has always been a great group of men. I lived here almost 20 years and they are all great guys.

  23. Posted September 23, 2009 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Wow. I heard the sirens but of course, had no idea what was going on until I tried to take my usual route to work when I drive and had to detour because E Cross was blocked off. I have always really liked that building and I know it is just a building but I am sad to see it go.

  24. Larry
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Stewart’s been buying up a lot of residential homes lately. My take was that he’d made a decision to turn away from retail development. it’s unfortunate that it happened like this, but I think he may be happy to be done with it and the headaches that came along with it.

  25. Lisele
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    So heartbreaking. I loved that old building and all its history. I was just thinking about Civil War recruits being housed there — mostly Normal School students, Ypsi-Dixit just pointed out in her blog — as I was thinking about EMU’s role in the community…

  26. Oliva
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    That old blue building full of mystery and history, decorated with lovely palladium windows. Feels like a real blow.

    Startling reminder about the value and sometimes precariousness of our old buildings. Spurs me to go get bottles of Freighthouse Wine for (early) holiday gifts and thank the people who’ve been working so tirelessly to restore that beloved building.

  27. Tim
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    effing depressing…

    what the hell Ypsi? a bank robbery at Chase and the destruction of an incredibly historic monument all within the same week?

    what’s next? the water tower’s just going to fall over…

    sad, sad news.

  28. Posted September 23, 2009 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    Was in there a few months ago scoping it out for office space….definitely could see the potential but it needed a lot of work that was going to take at least a year if all went as planned. Also, it was all wood with a brick shell, explaining some of why it went up so quickly. When i got down there at 2am, the fire department was there (with more coming) and it was totally engulfed. It was scary to be woken up by sirens and rolling over to see flames shooting high in the air.

  29. Brackinald Achery
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    I’m really glad no one was hurt.

    I always figured the wall facing Cross St. would buckle out in the middle and fall on somebody one day, and it didn’t, even in the fire. I stand corrected.

  30. Mary
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    First of all, it is very sad to see a historic building destroyed. But, many questions immediately come to mind. 1) Why has there been so little progress on this building in the last 5 years? I’ve heard and read many ideas and proposals regarding the space but have only seen workers at the site a handful of times. There were Loft available signs posted like a year ago but no work being done? 2) Why did the owners let the permits run out last April if a restoration plan was truly moving forward? 3) The fire is going to likely be ruled an Arson. It seems very coincidental that it would be randomly burned down now when it has sat empty for so long. Hopefully some good will come of this and something will actually get done with the space?

  31. WDF
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    I run by that location several times a week (as recently as around 8:10 last evening). I remember seeing the construction lights on from inside the second floor bay window a couple nights ago, but I don’t remember if lights were on last night as I was cruising (for an old guy) at 7:00 minute mile pace. It is loss for Mr. Beal and the community. The best we all can do, is keep moving forward with a positive attitude. Ypsi has been kicked when she’s down before, but but we are done yet!

  32. Murf
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    While sad from the historical perspective (both Civil War and the guy that owned it for 40 years and did nothing with it), I have hope that finally something usable and not such a glaring eyesore in an otherwise lovely Depot Town will be there. Now…on to the train depot….

  33. Posted September 23, 2009 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    Maybe Depot Town will now become the set of a World War 2 movie…

  34. Brackinald Achery
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    I wonder how many people are secretly glad of it.

  35. Murf
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Judging from the comments whenever this topic would come up at our neighborhood association meeting, a lot more than the comments on here would make one think.

  36. Dan
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Murf, when you say on to the train depot are you confessing something?

  37. Posted September 23, 2009 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Wow. Wait till I tell my husband! He used to own a building kitty corner from there. I don’t think he even knows Kircher isn’t there anymore. Hubby once rented from Kircher and had to go to his home for some reason. Kercher’s place was full of newspaper stacks (essentially a fire trap) and Kercher was completely bottomless.

  38. galan
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    I passed by the Thompson Building last night around 8:00 and noticed that were lights shining out of the second floor windows through windows that had previously been boarded up and were now open. Window number 4 or 5 going from south to north. My neighbor went by around the same time and noticed the same thing. I saw Stuart Beal this morning and told him this and in part of his reply he said that the fire “…had been set”.

  39. Woody Lefurge
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    All the local TV coverage has been very gracious and flattering of Depot Town and the neighborhood. WDIV really highlighted the history well and had great shots of area buildings. My compliments to folks that appeared on camera. Almost made we want to buy a luxury loft…

  40. Thomas Ribbonsworth
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Arson, plain and simple.

  41. Tim Stone
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    So it seems to be arson. Now we have to ask ourselves who would have done it. Kircher is in jail, but I suspect authorities will talk with him, seeing as how the building was forcefully taken from him by the city. Beal will likewise be a suspect, assuming he’s got insurance on the building. Or it could have been someone with a ax to grind against Beal. A disgruntled employee maybe. Or a contractor who felt as though he wasn’t treated right. Or maybe we’ve got a local fire bug. The thing that doesn’t seem right to me, though, is that someone would be in the room with the lights on. If you were doing this on purpose, I would think, you’d use a flashlight.

  42. Posted September 23, 2009 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    I just spent over 2 hours inside the old Thompson Building – I snuck inside through the back (which is soon going to be very hard, as they are currently fencing it off). I recorded over an hour and a half of HD footage, and took as many photos as I could.

    I find it hard to imagine this massive fire was caused by anything other than unsafe use of lights and extension cords. I have been to that building several times (after dark), since JC Beal has been working on it, and *every* time there was a maze of exposed light bulbs and old, duct-taped yellow extension cords with frayed wire visible left on 24/7.

    I took photos and video today of these exposed, unsafe wires in a part of the building that wasn’t damaged by fire.

    While inside, another man, who lived nearby the Thompson building, came in with me through the back. We were both following the extension cords and what-was-left of the hanging light bulbs. He said he’s worked construction for some time, and the wires they were using inside were no were safe.

    Not good.

  43. Posted September 23, 2009 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    The comment below from Annarbor.com argues against arson.

    Tim Stone, I have passed by the building numerous evenings in the past few months and there have been lights on and no evidence of work taking place.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>
    http://www.annarbor.com/news/large-fire-guts-historic-building-in-ypsilantis-depot-town/

    I just spent over 2 hours inside the old Thompson Building – I snuck inside through the back (which is soon going to be very hard, as they are currently fencing it off). I recorded over an hour and a half of HD footage, and took as many photos as I could.

    Seeing that this post has been updated to say official have labeled the fire as “suspicious”, I feel it’s not out of line to comment that:

    I find it hard to imagine this massive fire was caused by anything other than unsafe use of lights and extension cords. I have been to that building several times (after dark), since JC Beal has been working on it, and *every* time there was a maze of exposed light bulbs and old, duct-taped yellow extension cords with frayed wire visible left on 24/7.

    I took photos and video today of these exposed, unsafe wires in a part of the building that wasn’t damaged by fire.

    While inside, another man, who lived nearby the Thompson building, came in with me through the back. We were both following the extension cords and what-was-left of the hanging light bulbs. He said he’s worked construction for some time, and the wires they were using inside were no were safe.

    Not good.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>

  44. Posted September 23, 2009 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    I forgot to include this :P Erica posted a photo she took two weeks ago of the Thompson building http://tr.im/zwmX – you can see all the exposed lights and yellow extension cords running all over the place. And if you look near the left of the photo, you can even see they had a maze of lights running through the basement.

    I’m working on the video and pictures I took this morning – it’s pretty awful. The insides of this building are very, very badly damaged.

  45. dan
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    I like the Kircher’s goons version the best.

  46. Posted September 23, 2009 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    Since buying a house down the street on East Cross over 5 years ago, I’ve always had hope for that building. It was frustrating, though, seeing only sporadic workers there doing what looked like minimal repair on the building. From a historical perspective, it is devastating, because that is part of what makes Depot Town what it is.

    That being said, a part of me thinks that maybe it was just the building’s time to burn down.

    I just don’t believe that this symbolizes all of Ypsilanti’s hope – that with the Thompson Block burning down, all our hope for reviving our city has also burned down.

    I think after we’re done grieving, new possibilities will spring up.

  47. Posted September 23, 2009 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    When I spoke to Captain Max Anthouard this morning he made a comment about the investigation not happening. Maybe I misunderstood him and he meant not happening today. Later, I spoke with the investigator and he said an investigation will take place. I updated the story to reflect that and I will definitely follow up on the investigation. Initial “off the record” comments are interesting. Look to the Ypsi Citizen for a follow up.

  48. jorj
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    I always saw it as a monument to the stubborn pursuit of obviously unworkable ideas.

  49. Murf
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Oh geez. Good catch, Dan. :-) No. I just meant let’s now focus on getting the train depot up and running.

  50. K Goons
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    I nominate all those people who didn’t want the Elbow Room moving in as suspects. The establishment will go to no ends to try stop the power of rock n roll.

  51. A Concerned Friend
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    I know this is coming too late, but, Mike, you probably should have released the photos anonymously. Now, I’m afraid you’re going to get sucked into this.

    Good luck.

  52. Posted September 23, 2009 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    @A Concerned Friend: Uh oh… How do you mean?

    I’d be happy to answer any questions the fire dept’ had – I’m especially concerned with the construction lights and cords… even in un-burned parts of the building they were frayed and exposed. Seemed very strange.

  53. Anon
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    @mikeambs

    “How do you mean?”

    Seriously? How ’bout answering questions about your entering and trespassing on private property. If you did it after the fire, how ’bout answering questions about interfering with a police/fire investigation.

    As for the photo, I’m not a building expert and neither are you, I gather. But I don’t see anything that looks like a problem even to a layperson.

  54. dragon
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Hat tip (well, really more than that) to the fire Departments involved, Ypsi, Superior and Pittsfield. They did an amazing job of saving the neighboring house. They had the one of the first hoses spraying over the roof of the house and against the Northern wall of the Thompson building the entire time. It looked like a lost cause as the fire was at it’s Zenith, raining down large embers on the neighboring properties. Eventually getting multiple extension ladders sprayind down on the roof of the Thompsom building.
    From the start, they took the responsibility of saving the house as a top priority. It is easy to say possessions don’t matter as long as the people got out safely, but when it’s everything you’ve ever owned it takes on a different level of meaning. The contents of four peoples were saved by the unbelievable work of the fire departments involved. Their hard work will be forever appreciated and I learned what a hero was last night.

  55. Posted September 23, 2009 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Hey @Anon :P

    Yes, I went in through the back *after* the fire… as in this morning when I heard what happened. And yes, that is trespassing. Considering the whole structure is possibly going to be bull-dozed to the ground in a month :( I weighed my options and took the risk of getting in trouble. That building was very special to me… I needed to document everything I could before it was gone forever.

    And again… I just thought it was “strange” the lights were always on… that’s it. Because I don’t know squat about that kind of thing.

    It wasn’t till another person came inside the building after I’d been in there recording, and he said he was in construction and he the type of cords were very unsafe.

    Take what you will from it. Does that mean that’s exactly what caused it? I hope not. I’m sure the fire and police dept will be working hard to get to the bottom of that.

  56. Ricker 76er
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    Crap. Crap. Crap! Just what we need in Ypsi, another browned out field. River Street Part II anyone? I know, just put a Burger King there. It could be a Civil War themed Burger King complete with Mason-Dixon Fries and the limited time Antietam Whopper.

  57. Posted September 23, 2009 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    Just so there’s no confusion, the photo that Mike was referring to (the one that I took before the building burned) was taken from the outside of the building. There was a small opening at the top of one of the rear windows and I was on the window sill looking through the opening when I took the photo.

  58. Dirtgrain
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    Wasn’t Beal arguing with someone in the comments section of another thread here, several months ago? This is turning into a Matlock episode.

    Seriously, I’m sad to read about this. I was looking forward to seeing what that building would become. I hope the property can still be used for something nifty.

  59. Posted September 23, 2009 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    They’ve closed the intersection off, and a city worker I talked to at the road block said it’d probably be that way for a week. They hadn’t quite figured out how to allow for local resident parking quite yet when last I looked.

  60. Posted September 23, 2009 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    I read through these comments wanting to know who the woman was posing in front of the burned-out building. But now that I’ve read all the comments, and since I don’t know you, I have to say that it is pretty self-absorbed to trek through a fire/crime scene simply because you love the building. You could have asked the owner or the fire department to let you go with them. Sure, they could have posted guards to keep people out and maybe you won’t have compromised any investigation but I can imagine plenty of other times where it would cause serious problems. (“I’m just a fan!”)

  61. Bill Felt
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    Follow the money

  62. James Madison
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    It was a cheaply built, massive building in 1860. Its cost for renovation to meet 21st century standards were, for its market value and location, far greater than the possible rental or other income to support. It’s burning down is a shame but given its Ypsilanti location, where real estate values and business properties of all types aren’t high enough to draw enough return on investment to merit putting capital into the Thompson building…..So the building was doomed to sit and root while its owner tried to act like he had a plan. For weeks, windows and doors to the building have been frequently missing or left open. Anybody could have gone in and started the fire. The property was clearly not secured the way that valuable vacant properties are secured. AnnArbor.com writes that it was under redevelopment…that is incorrect, no active work has been done for eons. It was a money trap….and an ugly building too, in my view.

    But what a dramatic fire!

  63. Brackinald Achery
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    I hate finding myself agreeing with fraudulent Madison.

  64. KitMizzy
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    Ah! Wow now!

    A stupid liar fire wire finds a filly willy silly friend! Happy time!

    “Cheaply built.” How so? So wise! Must be true! Oh. Oh. Oh! So wise!!!! Tank you for so convincing truth!!!!!!
    Ooooooh! But “bad capital built no return investment” sound so PROfound! Must be! But, wow wow wow. Just silly words? No proof. Just say super silly!!! Still. Fool silly Brackinald. Oh, so silly you.

    I talk with SUPER EXPERT say LAST ONE THOUSAND YEARS and worth SO MUCH MONEY IT MAKE YOUR PENIS SMALL!!!

    Wow. Deep. Brackinald’s gut must think.

    What did I really say compare to ooooh so wise James Madison!

    Blog so wise.

    Make skin tingle.

    G-bumps!!!

    Pretend is silly fun!

  65. Brackinald Achery
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    I prefer Geir. Now there was a man you could reason with.

  66. kilroy
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

    Let’s face it, up until yesterday the damn building looked better when kircher owned it. The city stole the building, gave it free to barnes, he claims to have racked up $200,000 in fees to clean it out. so why does it still look like shit in pictures taken months ago? Beal claims to have spent $600,000. But not to install fire sprinkler systems, secure the building to keep it safe from intruders and arsonists, but on expensive designers and planners. If Beal had alot of insurance on this project he might be joining Kircher in Jackson, if you didn’t he is the most negligent thing to happen to the thompson building SINCE kircher. HELL, the building didn’t burn down when kircher was there, because he had tenants, those tenants had security alarms and the place was safe. Kircher owned it for 30 years and it never burned down and looked like shit, Beal and Barnes have had it for 6-7 years and it is rubble and looks shittier. Try to have your PR company spin this positive Beal. If you had insurance you did it yourself, if you didn’t you are the dumbest FUCK in Ypsi…no gray area.

    Yspi is a darker place without the Thompson Building, and you caused it Beal!

    You Know Who This Is

  67. Posted September 23, 2009 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

    I just uploaded two pics I took this morning from inside the Thompson building… I have to say, seeing it from the front was kinda hard… but then seeing what the *inside* really looked like was heartbreaking: http://tr.im/zzBu

  68. Fred
    Posted September 24, 2009 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    If you’ve got images showing frayed wiring and the like, I’m sure the insurance company would love to see it.

  69. Ypsi Biker
    Posted September 24, 2009 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    Kilroy- so glad you put your butt on the line with a major investment to make Ypsi better. So easy to throw stones…
    I still cheer for Beal. Keep going. You will prevail!

  70. Andrea
    Posted September 24, 2009 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Such a shame part of ypsilanti’s historical building is destroyed I doubt they will be able to restore much built in 1860 it was to be residental property and business use by mark norris( built by him). The civil war intervened and it became civil was barracks there is very interesting history on this building and depot town area ! Hope for restoration! We need all our history in this area!!!!

  71. kilroy
    Posted September 27, 2009 at 12:00 am | Permalink

    Ypsibiker- you have no idea what I have gone through to make ypsi a better place. So much that I can’t live there anymore! So if you wanna put your ypsi better dick on the table let me unzip first, you are no contest for me.

    and beal is a no better, doing it right for ypsi, or doing it wrong for profit and ypsi benefits, ypsi you are going to have to decide.

    Kilroy

  72. scared in ypsi
    Posted September 27, 2009 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    who ever did this should be ashamed of themselves for putting our lives in danger! we live next to this building, which had a gas leak and it could have exploded! i cannot sleep at night because of this fire, and i am planning on leaving ypsilanti as soon as possible. i grew up in west willow and thought depot town would be a safer place. i guess i was wrong. thanks for the PTSD.

  73. Posted September 27, 2009 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    I agree with you that whomever is responsible for this should be ashamed. They should also be in prison. People could have been killed. And a much loved historic building is in jeopardy of disappearing completely. With all of that said, though, I don’t know that this incident demonstrates that Ypsi is an unsafe place to live or raise a family.

  74. Posted September 27, 2009 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    Cross is a hell of a lot safer now that the street’s closed off. We had a hit and run last week or the week before. No more of that for a while.

  75. Oliva
    Posted September 27, 2009 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    The picnic at Riverside Park today, and many other things, supports a more hopeful view about Ypsilanti as a good place to be and raise a family. (But thank goodness your house wasn’t harmed, scared in ypsi. As for what you’re going through, I can imagine people wanting to pitch in to help some way, even just a little.)

  76. Posted September 27, 2009 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    That sounds like a motive, Jake.

  77. Posted September 27, 2009 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    Just because burning things solves most problems doesn’t make me the bad guy.

  78. Posted September 28, 2009 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    This just in from the CIty Manager:

    Mayor and Council Members:

    I am providing you with the most recent information about activities at the Thompson building since the fire last week.

    Chief Ichesco reports that a fire investigation should be completed in 30 days. He is working with the State Fire Marshall and representatives from the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco on the investigation. The debris will need to be removed to conduct an investigation and the recent change in weather is hampering efforts.

    Chief Ichesco has met with Mr. Beal and the structural engineered employed by Mr. Beal. Mr. Beal is securing the remaining walls and intends to rebuild.

    Chief Ichesco reports that north and south River St. will reopen in one week and that one lane of East. Cross Street will reopen in one week.

    Please contact me if you have any questions.

    Ed

    Edward B. Koryzno Jr.
    City Manager

    City of Ypsilanti
    1 S. Huron Street
    Ypsilanti, Michigan 48197
    734-483-1810
    734-483-7260 (f)
    ekoryzno@cityofypsilanti.com
    http://www.cityofypsilanti.com

    “Pride, Diversity, Heritage”

  79. Posted September 28, 2009 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    What if, instead of “Pride, Diversity, Heritage” we switch over to “Pride, Arson, Nose Punching,” or something like that for a little while?

  80. Brackinald Achery
    Posted September 28, 2009 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    The ATF??? Wow.

  81. Posted September 28, 2009 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    Time to get out your autograph book, BA.

  82. Brackinald Achery
    Posted September 28, 2009 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    I assume, then, that it was started by a poorly attended cigarette.

  83. Ames
    Posted September 28, 2009 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    …no doubt dropped by an alcoholic.

  84. Beta
    Posted September 28, 2009 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    …an alcoholic firearms salesman.

  85. Kim
    Posted September 29, 2009 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Someone should tell these ATF agents that we allow our local biker gangs to control our public thoroughfares in Ypsi. I’d hate to see one of them get punched in the nose for not showing the proper amount of deference.

  86. scared in ypsi
    Posted October 1, 2009 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    Everyone says Ypsilanti is a safe place to live, but look at the posts! “biker gangs run the streets” “hit and run on cross street” Ypsi will be a trashy place as long as the Police don’t patrol any other area but the student ghetto. All night long people go to the bars, make a loud scene outside my house, all drunk and then drive away. where are the police handing out the DUIs?

    I do applaud Beal for setting up 24 hour security at the site.

  87. wetdolphinmissile
    Posted October 1, 2009 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    scared in ypsi:
    Ypsi is as safe as anywhere. Biker gangs NOT, memorial riders yes. Most cities have people who morn. And even lovely, lily white burbs have crazies, remember Columbine?
    College students scary? Were you never young or fun?

  88. egpenet
    Posted October 1, 2009 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Dear Scared In Ypsilanti:

    I prescribe a neck rub at the Ypsi Health Club on Michigan Avenue, a five-minute trot to Riverside Park, ten minutes of meditation along the Huron River, and twenty-five spins of a Tibetan Prayer Wheel, once weekly for a month and you’ll begin to realize that black holes are actually the most beautiful and safest places in the universe. No more PTSD.

  89. Brackinald Achery
    Posted October 1, 2009 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Imagine how much scarier it would be if they hadn’t changed the name of the Jamboree!

  90. scared in ypsi
    Posted October 2, 2009 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    hahaha! Thanks everyone. The ptsd has subsided, still having bad dreams about my house being on fire. After I posted that I read the whole story on the biker situation. I am glad this forum is here, it really helped me get out the stored anger/energy regarding the Thompson block fire. It probably didnt help that last year this time my apartment was literally hit by a Tornado. (in Plymouth)

  91. diva
    Posted October 3, 2009 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    dats sad

  92. Cooter
    Posted October 16, 2009 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Fire investigation crew was picking around the building yesterday…

  93. depot town
    Posted August 1, 2013 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    The burning of the Thompson Block happened because Beal did not properly secure the building. People were always in and out of it. Kircher did a better job of looking after the building. That fact should not be ignored.

  94. Cheep
    Posted March 25, 2014 at 1:32 am | Permalink

    I’ve heard that Beal’s partner on this project, Tyler Weston, is running for city council. Is there not a conflict of interest?

4 Trackbacks

  1. […] you know, the historic Civil War barrack here in Ypsi, commonly referred to as the Thompson Block, was set ablaze almost three months ago, leaving towering walls of unsupported brick. The owner of the building, Stuart Beal, within a few […]

  2. […] how Ypsi’s historic Thompson block burned down last fall, and how the building’s owner, Stuart Beal, had blocked up the streets with […]

  3. By What’s up with the Thompson Block? on April 26, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    […] much to say. If you’re curious as to what I think, you can read the old posts. They begin on September 23, 2009, the day after the building was set ablaze. We’ve had lots of good posts about the Thompson Block since then, but I think my favorite […]

  4. […] Given the controversy that has swirled around the redevelopment of the old Civil War barrack since it was set on fire by a squatter in the early fall of 2009, it’s not that surprising. Rightly or wrongly, many in this community feel as though Beal, […]

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