Archer House River Inn owners hope to demolish the historic structure, destroyed in a November blaze, by September. The company insuring the building last month found the building to be a total loss.
Owners are working with demolition companies and hope to finalize plans in approximately 30 days. Demolition would be expected to begin 30-60 days after.
Brett Reese, Rebound Enterprises managing partner and chairman of the board, called starting any reconstruction project this fall “a stretch,” noting a more likely starting point is next spring. He said the timeline of the demolition could depend on whether any environmental and structural demolition concerns are found during the process.
Reese said the need to demolish the structure as soon as possible comes as its condition continues deteriorating under the summer heat. Last month, the front-center portion of the structure’s portico collapsed, approximately six months following the fire. Also, Reese said they want to salvage as much as they can from the existing facility before it is demolished, including possibly bricks and wood, but recognize that smoke and mold damage has already destroyed many items.
Reese noted the owners plan to work with architects, engineers and the city to develop conceptual site redevelopment plans. Though final plans have not been finalized, Reese said developers want to bring the building closer to the Cannon River and use the existing back parking lot for the new building. Potential uses include recognizing the 144-year-old building’s purpose as a hotel and placing extended stay rooms, apartments, food and beverage establishments, or retail businesses in the building. Reese has said the owners are interested in recognizing the role the Archer House played in Northfield and carrying a new structure forward with “charm, character.”
Following the insurance company’s findings, Reese noted the insurance company’s diagnosis, along with the expected steep cost of repairing the structure, rendered reconstructing the Archer House as is impossible.
The iconic building, built along the east bank of the Cannon River, sustained heavy smoke and water damage throughout the structure during the Nov. 12 fire, which reportedly started in a hood over the smoker at one of the Inn’s restaurants, Smoqehouse. Fire crews reportedly used more than 2 million gallons of water to combat the blaze over the course of nearly 24 hours. Some places, especially the first-floor Smoqehouse and the four levels directly above it, were considerably damaged. In other spots, the damage wasn’t as extensive.