It’s been two weeks since a fire in Bisbee destroyed two historic buildings on Main Street. The City of Bisbee is moving forward with plans to secure and brace the walls damaged by the fire.

City officials say they are working on building-bracing plans and hope to talk with a contractor by the end of the week. The walls have to be secured before the City opens the closed portion of Main Street, that’s affecting six local business.

Ben Lepley, an architect who’s lived in Bisbee since 2016, says the walls can be saved, but it will take time. He has completed historic preservation and restoration projects throughout the city.

These buildings are savable,” Lepley said. “It just takes a lot of patience and planning and positive energy.


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He estimates the damage to cost between three and four million dollars to fix. Lepley says he’s spoken with city leaders to provide advice and share his insight on what it would take to restore the buildings.

The technicalities of saving these facades is pretty straight forward actually, he says.

Lepley suggested the city find engineers that can secure the walls with braces and that can properly assess the damage. He believes that securing the walls buys times for the engineers to look at and make a plan for the buildings.

Assuring the walls up buys everyone time and allows the engineers and architects to really study the walls and how they want to rebuild, Lepley said.

City officials say they are helping the business owners by finding the engineers and getting the bracing done so it speeds up the process, but at the end of the day it will be up to the owners of the buildings and their insurance company to pay for the work, since they are privately owned.

The advice I gave to the mayor and city staff was to try and work with an engineer to save the facades first by putting in beams against the facades and diagonal shoring, Lepley said.

This is a similar process to what First Presbyterian Church of Douglas did after the arson last year. Lepley says the church’s success with this process should reassure the Bisbee community that the fronts and backs of the buildings can be saved.