Storm damage cause of building collapse

Corey Woolsey / The Register Crews work on the demolition of the former Vintage Collections building and the adjacent structure on Monday.

MOUNT CARMEL -- For Dave Wilderman, the demolition of his building on Market Street ends an era of family business from that location since the 1970s.

In late June, a storm that ripped through town, later producing a tornado in Petersburg, IN, caused the damage that eventually caused the collapse of the building.

"After the storm, we realized we had some drop ceiling issues," said Wilderman. "I started working on that, not understanding why I was having those problems. I worked early into the morning getting those back and not thinking anything about it."

A short time later, Wilderman's wife, Laura told him they were having a few more issues.

"I told her I didn't have time to work on it at the time, I'll get to it in the next couple days," he said. "It didn't look good because you have these ceiling tile out and uneven."

When Laura got to work the next morning, the ceiling had come down into the showroom.

"It was shocking," said Wilderman. "Joe Swift came up along with our agent Mike Harris and looked at it. It was serious and we made an insurance claim immediately."

Wilderman said the initial plan was to repair the building. But when the insurance company sent a pair of engineers in, the couple was told that no one was to come into the building. The first adjuster said he wouldn't go in the building.

"He said you can go in about 10 feet," said Wilderman. "I asked about the back of the building that wasn't damaged and he said we could go in there. But our main showroom, he said stay out of it. The engineers that came about a week later ordered us out and said not to let anyone in, period."

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The engineers asked Wilderman to put up barricades on the sidewalk because they didn't want anyone near the building. A building refurbisher from Chicago came in to look at the building shortly after the engineers came in. He told Wilderman that there was nothing that could be repaired to save the building.

"Not long after that, the insurance company verified through the engineers that it was definitely storm damage," said Wilderman.

He said it was a tough loss because they had put a lot of work into the building.

"I have been very supportive of uptown forever and believe in uptowns and in fact they are trending right now," said Wilderman.

Wilderman said that what happened last Sunday when the wall fell was what they were afraid was going to happen if they walked in.

"We didn't have any clue when it was going to happen," he said. "That was a windy day, and it just blew down. Thank goodness no one was around it at the time."

Wilderman thanks his agent Mike Harris, Joe Swift, the Mayor and City of Mount Carmel, the Mount Carmel Police Department and many more for their help.

"We appreciate all the kind words that have been said to us during this time," said Wilderman.

In the loss of the building, Wilderman is losing a lot of family memories.

"My father (Chuck Wilderman) and I bought it in 1974," said Wilderman. "We bought the building for Wilderman Appliances. A lot of people know me as the appliance guy yet to this day."

Wilderman got out of the appliance business 25 years ago, but had businesses in the building ever since.

In fact, even after the showroom section of the building was closed off, Stephanie Rye ran Mount Carmel Massage Therapy in the back of the building. She operated into August until the utilities were disconnected. Her business is now located at 530 Westover.

"She was a great tenant and I hated to have to go back to her tell her we had a problem," said Wilderman.

Laura, Wilderman's wife, operated Vintage Collections, which had been open since June 21, 1999.

"If you do the math, we were there a week over 20 years," he said. "We were getting ready to put up a brand new sign and have a 20th anniversary sale. We didn't quite get there."

Wilderman and his wife are looking at the options for continuing the business in some way.

"We are still buying merchandise," he said. "If a new antique mall happens to open, Laura will be working there and we will become booth renters like we rented to other dealers in our business. We won't be rebuilding. We don't have any plans for the lot. It is a great corner and my intent is to go up there on weekends and drink coffee."

Wilderman said that his wife has had condolences for the loss of her business from California, Australia, Japan and other places.

"People knew her over those years," he said. "There are several stories that took place there and she lost that association with others. She built the business just as we planned it. We are going to have another presence, and hopefully it is a physical presence because that is where the fun is. She has seen children grow up in that business; there is just near stuff that has always gone on around that business."

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