Partially-collapsed historic Bethlehem building to become history
BETHLEHEM — The more than 100-year-old structure known alternately as the Cruft Block, the Jackson Block and the Summit Building, was a big piece of the downtown’s history and soon it will be a memory, according to town officials.
On Sept. 12, 2013, the building — located at the northwestern corner of Main and Maple streets — was heavily damaged in a torrential downpour.
Before falling into disrepair, it had served as a hardware store, a general store, a dance hall, a post office and apartments.
Vacant at the time of the damage, the four-story building’s flat roof collapsed in the center, causing the building to bow out at both ends, said Bethlehem Fire Chief Jack Anderson.
Because of safety concerns, the town contracted with Spear Brothers of Laconia to partially demolish the building to where it wasn’t an imminent threat and has since been working to finalize the process to level it.
While noting that details are still being worked out, Anderson said the process — which previously included the town doing an asbestos and lead-paint survey that found levels low enough so that the debris could be disposed of locally instead of at a special landfill — is moving along.
Anderson added that he hopes to have demoltion bids out soon so the work is done this summer.
“It’s one of those things we just want to make sure it’s done properly,” said Anderson.
What happens with the property after isn’t known.
Built in 1880, the Cruft Block began life with five stories, which was reduced to four after the fifth floor was deemed structurally unsound.