There was great promise in the 102-year-old Levoy Theater. Just last week there were numerous articles about the gutting of the building with its facade left in place and new steel trusses for the roof. The new Levoy was supposed to be a centerpiece for downtown Millville with a scheduled reopening in July. The Levoy is now a pile of rubble.
According to news accounts there were multiple collapses. The first collapse occurred around 3:00 PM. A dozen people working on the site escaped injury. The collapse damaged nearby gas meters causing a natural gas leak.
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Another collapse happened about 20 minutes later, after firefighters arrived at the scene. It left a veteran firefighter with a broken leg. Here are excerpts from an article by Greg Adomaitis at NJ.com:
The fire fighter, whose name has not been released, was by the front walls of the theater and neighboring tea room when the rest of the building gave out.
The workers had noticed plaster along the north corner beginning to separate which left a 6-to-8 foot gap in the corners.
They managed to evacuate before the entire face of the building, then most of the side walls, came crashing down 20 minutes later.
The rear wall remained standing though neighboring buildings suffered damages in the collapse.
The tea room next door was damaged and all the gas meters for the apartments in the Fath building, on the other side of the Levoy, were ripped off, causing a gas leak.
Gas to three buildings was shut off and fumes were to be cleared before the scene of the collapse could be reopened.
The final step of demolition at Levoy Theatre in Millville signals continuing strides to reconstruct the historic theater.
Crews worked from scissor lifts Thursday, using pneumatic chisels to break loose the building’s massive interior wall, brick-by-brick. The dismantling process includes the proscenium arch around the original stage.
“This is the final piece to be removed before it is all moving forward,” said Phillip Van Embden, a member of the theater’s board of directors.
The 102-year-old theater has already been gutted, with only the original exterior walls remaining, and the building received new steel trusses for the roof and improvements to the foundation.
Van Embden said deconstruction of the wall should continue through early next week, with the bricks headed to the Palace of Depression in Vineland – a renowned Depression-era home built by George Daynore using an assortment of scrap materials. Volunteers have undertaken the task of restoring the abnormal attraction after it was torn down more than 40 years ago.