Walls are coming down

Demolition of the former Marshall Hotel building began Wednesday

Photo by Deb Gau Work crews and equipment broke apart a corner of the top floor of the former Marshall Hotel building late Wednesday afternoon. Preparation for the building’s demolition has been going on since last week.

MARSHALL — It stood on Main Street for the better part of a century, but the end came for the former Marshall Hotel building late Wednesday afternoon. In the alley behind the hotel, equipment operators carefully began breaking up a corner of the building’s top floor. Bricks fell, and wood and roofing materials crumpled, sometimes kicking up dust.

“It’s kind of sad to see it go,” Marshall City Administrator Sharon Hanson said Wednesday. The city had hoped the building could be renovated, and put to new uses, Hanson said. But after renovation work on the City Hall building next door revealed significant water damage, Marshall City Council members opted to tear the former hotel down.

“Hopefully, we will fill the space with something people can be proud of again,” Hanson said.

Prep work for the demolition went on most of the day Wednesday. Workers could be seen around the building and in the back alley on the 300 block of West Main Street. At the front of the property, a construction fence blocked off the sidewalk in front of the hotel and partly in front of its next-door neighbor, the Mainstay Cafe.

But even as the building was about to come down, the cafe was having a busy morning, with customers sitting at tables or placing carryout orders.

“We have had a couple people ask if we’re open,” said Bailey Wurst at Mainstay. But the cafe is still serving customers, she said, and staff were getting the word out that they were open.

“A lot of people check our Facebook page,” where updates are posted, she said. Plus, Mainstay staff had put up brightly colored “We Are Open” signs out front, and on Wednesday a trail of chalk messages on the Main Street sidewalk pointed the way toward the cafe entrance.

In spite of the fencing, changes in parking, and the protective boards and scaffolding around Mainstay’s front windows and door, there was still a flow of people placing orders for coffee or food.

Work had been gearing up to demolish the former Marshall Hotel building since last week, Marshall city staff said. Scott VanDerMillen, the city’s representative on the project, said demolition would start in the alleyway behind the hotel. Access to the alley was temporarily blocked off with fencing once demolition started.

Tearing down a building on Main Street could have potential effects on surrounding businesses, and VanDerMillen said both the city and demolition company LinnCo have been communicating with businesses and property owners. Right now, on one side of the former hotel building is another construction zone, as the Marshall City Hall building is gutted and remodeled. But VanDerMillen said the city was corresponding with business owners further down the street at 348 West Main. He said LinnCo has also contacted property owners adjacent to the hotel about the construction schedule.

Wurst said the demolition company has been communicating with Mainstay, and was taking steps to avoid having to close down the cafe while work is going on.

Demolition of the former hotel is the final chapter in a long history for the building, which dates back to the 1920s. The hotel building hat sat vacant for many years before being declared a fire hazard by the state fire marshal’s office. The city of Marshall acquired the vacant hotel property through eminent domain in hopes of it being renovated and occupied again. But demolition work at City Hall exposed extensive water damage on one wall of the hotel, and the city approved its demolition.

The hotel’s old neon sign was taken down on Friday. VanDerMillen said it’s being stored at the city shop building, due to limited storage space at the Lyon County Historical Society.


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