Chimney collapse sets-back progress at historic home

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It looks like the chimney of the building imploded.

For years, Kilgore’s oldest home has been undergoing renovations, and there’s even more work ahead now after the collapse of fireplaces and more masonry within the historic Dean Keener Crim Home.

David Reeves is devastated. He’s pushing forward, however, beginning with today’s fundraiser plant sale, the fourth annual event at the home offering greenery in exchange for monies to help fuel renovations.

Undoubtedly, he’ll be telling the story many times today during the 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. sale at the intersection of Lantrip Street and Commerce.

Suffice it to say, “It’s disastrous,” he said Friday. “I don’t know what started the chain reaction, but all four fireplaces and the chimney around it just collapsed into the bottom two floors.”

It left a 5-foot-tall pile of bricks in the parlor of the historic home.

“You have no idea until you actually see it in person how bad it really is. The worst damage is the floor in the upstairs front bedroom has collapsed, which pushed the ceiling down in the parlor.”

Reeves discovered the damage this week – before Thursday night’s frightful weather. From an initial investigation and consultation with the home’s insurer, it’s likely the collapse occurred over the weekend following Saturday’s strong winds.

“We don’t understand what happened,” said Jerry Camp, president of Kilgore Historical Preservation Foundation, which owns the home and oversees the renovations by Reeves and his team of volunteers. “I’ve never seen anything like this or heard of anything like this. It could have been just one thing that then multiplied itself.”

The only thing to do is to move forward, Camp agreed, aiming for a meeting with an adjuster next week, if it’s possible amid other claims following Thursday’s storm.

As soon as they’re able, KHPF and its contractors will get the chimney back in order.

“Our plans are to get at least that part done and then let David and his committee continue restoring the building. They’re doing a great job. The outside looks great, the inside is shaping.”

For Camp, it’s a best of times, worst of times situation: at least the collapse happened when the building was unoccupied.

I’m very grateful no one was hurt. You’ve got to count your blessings somewhere. That said, we’re just going to push on, see what we can do. Hopefully it won’t be too long before we can get it back into shape.”

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