A building that collapsed Sunday morning in West Jefferson has a long history with the village.
Originally known as the Kuehner Building, the structure was built about 1860 by Martin Kuehner, according to local historian Charlie Miller.
Kuehner was born Sept. 26, 1830 in Niefern Baden, Germany and in 1859 he immigrated with his wife, Caroline Grassle, to the United States. He was a shoemaker by trade and later did boot and shoe manufacturing.
The couple’s residence would have been in the upstairs of the building, Miller said.
“Kuehner was very civic-minded and served on village council from 1867 to 1872,” Miller said. “Later in the 1880s, he served in the Village Fire Company.”
Kuehner died in West Jefferson on Feb. 25, 1913. His son, Charles — also known as Charlie — had taken over the family business. Charlie was born on June 17, 1863 and died April 2, 1962 at the age of 98.
Miller said he remembers Charlie Kuehner as “a little short, thin man who wore glasses, and scurried around the store.”
“It was not only a shoe store, but also a clothing store,” Miller said. “It saved people a lot of trouble from going to Columbus to find clothing items.”
Miller said he is still in possession of a silver dollar dated 1873 that was given to him by Kuehner.
During about 1928, Dr. J. William Hurt opened his office in the downstairs office on the west side of the building, which is now occupied by Dr. Gerald Weissman, according to Miller. The upstairs upper room on the west was the office of Dr. Gibboney, a dentist.
Near the 1950s Leigh Bradfield took over the clothing business, Miller said.
“A number of businesses have been in the large downstairs room on the east, including Todd’s Pizza, which started there,” Miller said.
Miller said from 1959 to 1961 he lived in the upstairs room that collapsed, and worked downstairs in the 1960s.
“This building was one of the few old landmarks still standing on Main Street, and it is a tragedy that the accident happened,” Miller said.
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