Downtown building to be demolished

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 17, 2010

NATCHEZ — Cedric Thompson’s bond with friend Alton Cornett proved stronger than the walls of the building he owns at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. and Franklin streets.

Cornett took over the demolition of his friend’s building, which collapsed overnight in April, and he plans to have the job finished next week.

Cornett said he is taking care of the demolition as a favor to Thompson, who he has known all his life.

All that remains is the north wall and a pile of debris, which will soon be hauled away by a dump truck, Cornett said.

The Natchez Board of Aldermen voted unanimously to demolish the structure in early June, but city demolition was delayed because Thompson said he would take care of the matter.

Local officials were ready to draft a two-week notice to Thompson, a St. Paul, Minn. resident and Natchez native, warning him the city would take over the demolition of his property unless he made progress.

City Clerk Donnie Holloway said the warning letter was called off Thursday when he noticed the demolition had started.

Cornett said he began tearing down what was left of the structure July 9.

He said his crew will keep the building’s foundation intact.

Cornett and his friends, tractor operator Brenda Shepherd and Charles Tuesno, have spent this week knocking down walls and salvaging its cypress beams and old bricks to use again or sell.

Cornett said after a dump truck arrives to haul the debris away, they can finish the project by tearing down the remaining brick wall on Thompson’s building.

“That’s what friends are for. We take care of each other,” Cornett said.

Cornett said he or Thompson might use the old brick and beams to rebuild the building on Thompson’s property, and they will sell what they cannot use.

Cornett said he is not sure what Thompson plans to do with the building if it is rebuilt.