By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CENTRALIA – The fate of the southwest corner of Tower Avenue and Main Street downtown is in the hands of the next generation.
Linda Hamilton’s historic building that burned last week was insured but it certainly can’t be just simply replaced.
Hamilton said with buildings that old, it’s hard to even get insurance, and what she had was capped.
The Dr. Matz building, the oldest masonry structure in Centralia, had a tax assessed value of almost $313,000.
“The cap, in 2012 replacement doesn’t build much,” Hamilton said today. “That part of it’s kind of sad.”
The Valentines Day fire displaced the tenants of a dozen apartments and five businesses, including Hamilton’s Centralia Perk coffee and antique shop and her upstairs residence.
Crews began demolishing what remained last week.
“The bank will be paid off, and happy,” Hamilton said.
The property will stay in the family; she’s letting her adult sons make the decision about what they want, she said.
“The building was their future, now the building lot is their future,” she said.
Her sons, J.J. and Ryan Hamilton, 29 and 31, are pretty excited, she said. If they want to go all out, and go in debt, that’s up to them, she said.
The insurance had a cap of $10,000 on the amount it would pay for tear the building down. The bid to do it was $90,000, according to Hamilton.
The Centralia Downtown Association is organizing a fundraiser to help her defray the costs of demolition.
Steve Koreis, vice president of the CDA, said Hamilton could have chosen to leave the hull of the building standing, but didn’t.
“It was her decision to make sure the building would be cleared completely,” Koreis said. “So we’re supporting her in that decision.”
Their focus is the best outcome for the downtown corridor, Koreis said.
The Centralia Downtown Association is affiliated with the state Main Street program, which has a philosophy of promoting economic revitalization while preserving a city’s historic character.
Koreis said Hamilton is planning to make the soon-to-be empty lot available for downtown events and activities.
Hamilton said she’s not certain where her former business tenants will land.
She hasn’t spoken with Tony McNally, who operated his barbershop there, but she knows the owner of Phantom Tattoo is looking to stay in the area, she said.
She knows nothing about Rachel Thompson’s plans with her Curious Betty’s boutique, she said. And the woman who had Jody’s hair salon in the back of Centralia Perk, she has friends helping her out, Hamilton said.
The fundraiser to help pay for the Matz building demolition is set for 6 p.m. on March 1, a week from Thursday at the Aerie Ballroom on South Tower Avenue.
It will include food, beverages, live entertainment and a silent auction, according to Koreis
The CDA is suggesting donations of $10 and up.