Gone in less than a day, an iconic building that has stood for over a century was demolished Wednesday. The New Hartford House was torn down after a devastating fire relegated it to charred ruins on Tuesday.
The demolition drew a somber crowd.
“You kind of took it for granted when you drove by it every day. But now that it’s gone it’s going to leave a huge gap,” said New Hartford resident Ron Naylo.
Bill Malchiodi said he lived in this building during the 1960s.
“I really want to cry. Really. Because it’s kicking the hell out of me right now seeing this building gone,” he said.
Destroyed with the building were 14 apartments and six businesses, including the New Hartford Barbershop. Owner, Alanna Sartirana looked on today as the business she opened just nine months ago was torn down.
“I can’t stand it. I cleaned those mirrors, nine months ago. I put decals on the walls and was so excited to open,” she said, fighting through the emotion.
Through the grief, Sartirana had perspective, thinking of the 22 people who have since been displaced.
“I feel awful for everybody else that lost their homes because I can still go home but people lost everything,” said Sartirana.
Helping the dozens who’ve been displaced, clothing and supplies were being donated at the Hands of Grace ministry.
“These people left their houses with shirts on their back and this is a small community and we want to help,” said Debbie Fudale, who gathered donations from several neighbors and delivered them Tuesday.
Other fundraisers are also in the planning process, including a cash gift card drive that will happen at the Red Barn Brewery in Winsted this weekend.
Among those watching the demolition was the town’s historical society director. As Pat Casey looked on, he told stories of how an early version of the sewing machine was developed in that building. Casey said the buildings has burned before and been rebuilt twice since it first opened as a small tavern over 200 years ago.
“1738 was when the first structure was there,” Casey explained.
The most recent version of the New Hartford House was built in the mid-1800s and what happened yesterday, Casey said, was devastating.
“I would say (the building) was more important to town than the Town Hall is,” Casey said, while fighting back tears.
All that remains now is a pile of debris. Along with generations of memories and the hope that it will at some point return to full glory.
“I am very hopeful that whatever is constructed in that footprint, the front of it, the façade, will be made to look as she did 48 hours ago,” said long-time New Hartford resident Greg O’Brien.
The debris that remains is now expected to be transported to a landfill in Ohio. We are told it is the closest landfill equipped to take in this type of debris that contains asbestos.