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Keeping Lafayette's historical structures safe

Last week's Notre Dame Cathedral fire weighs heavy on the hearts of people around the world.

Posted: Apr 24, 2019 6:51 PM
Updated: Apr 24, 2019 6:51 PM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - Historic structures are often staples of an entire community.

"Lafayette is home to a lot of beautiful late 19th and early 20th century historic structures and homes," said Tippecanoe County Historical Association Executive Director Craig Hadley.

The Moses Fowler House is one of those homes.

"The pocket doors are probably some of the most amazing pieces of wood in the house," explained Colby Bartlett, Tippecanoe County Historical Association board member.

He said if those doors were to burn down, you would have a hard time even finding the materials, let alone the craftsmanship necessary to build them.

It's like that with pretty much everything in the Fowler House. He can't imagine what it would be like to lose it.

"It would be like ripping the part of the heart and soul and memory out of our community," said Bartlett.

That's why the Fowler House is covered with state of the art fire prevention methods.

"We have sensors to detect heat and smoke in every room and every closet," said Bartlett.

Lafayette Fire Chief Richard Doyle prefers a sprinkler system but Tippecanoe County Historical Association Executive Director Craig Hadley has concerns about that.

"First of all, they're so expensive," said Hadley. "Secondly, water can do just as much damage to a historic structure as fire."

"Tell that to the people who are sitting in the ruins of the Notre Dame Cathedral," responded Doyle.

Chief Doyle believes a sprinkler system would have greatly minimized damage in the Notre Dame case. However, he does recommend smoke and heat detectors, too. Especially if they are linked to emergency services. Historic structures can go up in flames faster than modern day construction, so you have to protect yourself.

"Making sure electrical systems are up to date, making sure that your fireplaces and fire boxes and heating systems are well maintained," said Hadley.

He said once historical homes and structures are lost, they are gone forever.

Chief Doyle said you can call the Lafayette Fire Department if you need any advice on how to protect your historic home or structure.

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