The owners of the Archer House, the downtown landmark heavily damaged in a devastating fire in November, hope to learn of the building’s fate within a month.
The iconic building, built along the east bank of the Cannon River more than 140 years ago, sustained heavy smoke and water damage throughout the building in the Nov. 12 fire. Owned by Rebound Partners, it initially appeared to be a total loss. Gaping holes in the building are still visible.
The investigation is reportedly in the final stages. This week, the fire investigation team is coordinating the removal of certain items, using heavy equipment around the building, and possibly inflicting additional structural damage to extract certain items, including a piece of equipment in Smoqehouse that investigators believe caused the fire.
“Since (the fire), the primary focus of activity on the site has been the ongoing investigation of the origin and cause of the fire,” the owners of the Archer House River Inn wrote in a Feb. 22 press release. “This investigation is being led by a professional fire investigator hired by the insurer for the Archer House River Inn.”
The owners wrote that once the fate of the building is determined, they “will be able to begin in earnest the process of assessing future options for the site which could include a wide range of possibilities including, but not limited to restoration, replacement or redevelopment.”
“We appreciate the outpouring of support and encouragement during this difficult time of a significant and important asset of our community being ‘silent and dark’ as the insurance process continues and eventually concludes,” they wrote.
Fire crews reportedly used more than 2 million gallons of water to combat the blaze over the course of nearly 24 hours. In some places, especially Smoqehouse and the four levels above, total damage was sustained. In other spots, the damage wasn’t as extensive but still included smoke and water impacts.
The fire came after months of renovations to public spaces within the Archer House and revenue losses caused by COVID-19. Renovations were also ongoing in the building’s Tavern of Northfield after a June 2019 kitchen fire at Chapati caused extensive water damage to the downstairs space.