Engine 819 mural to be demolished


It is not financially feasible to save a Main Street mural depicting Cotton Belt Engine 819 from demolition, city officials have determined.

Assistant to the Mayor Evelyn Horton said that inspectors with the Pine Bluff Department of Inspection and Zoning and the Street Department both determined that the amount of work that would be required to save the mural is cost-prohibitive. The mural is painted on the north wall of the fire-gutted Young’s Cleaners at 917 S. Main St.

“They said that it would cost up to $50,000 to properly secure the wall once the rest of the building is demolished,” Horton said.

Horton said that she telephoned each member of the Pine Bluff City Council to get their opinions.

“Everybody agreed that the wall should come down,” Horton said.

Mayor Debe Hollingsworth said July 23 that the city inspectors would take the site’s potential use as a parking lot into consideration when making their assessment of the viability of the mural wall.

City inspector Jamin Ross said in his written assessment that there is no guarantee that the wall would remain standing after the rest of the structure was removed.

“To support the wall along with weatherproofing the top and interior bricks would be costly,” Ross said in the assessment. “We feel that the wall needs to come down with the structure.”

Similarly, Rick Rhoden with the street department said that in his assessment, the wall may remain unsafe even after the installation of support apparatus.

Richard Metcalf with Relyance Bank is acting as the legal agent for the family in the cleanup of of the Young’s Cleaners building.

Metcalf said last week that he was amenable to preserving the mural wall if city officials said that they would accept responsibility for its maintenance.

“I was planning to offer the lot to the city anyway once the Young family receives the insurance money,” Metcalf said last week. “The demolition crew is planning to tear everything down to the slab.”

No city money is involved in the demolition, Alderman Lloyd Holcomb Jr. has said previously. He is chairman of the Pine Bluff City Council Public Health and Welfare Committee.

“This is a private agreement between the building’s owner and the contractor” Holcomb said July 18.

Pine Bluff Fire and Emergency Services Chief Shauwn Howell said recently that an arson is suspected in the May 24 fire that destroyed the building.

There were no injuries in the fire, which caused an estimated $75,000 in damage to the 15,000-square-foot structure.

The curb lane of northbound Main Street along the length of the burned-out building has been roped off to traffic since the fire because of the presence of rubble close to the edge of the roadway.

There is a $2,500 reward for anyone with information about the fire leading to an arrest and a conviction. Anyone with information is asked to call 730-2048.