Battle Creek’s Historic District Commission met Monday and decided to give Bryant DeBolt, the 80 year old owner of the historic Binder Building, 90 more days to come up with a way to repair what city inspectors say is a dangerous building.

The city could have begun demolition on the triangular sandstone tower as soon as this month.

The meeting went long, and there was a lot of discussion before all but one on the commission voted no on the city’s request to tear down the building.

But it was a difficult decision.  A source says the entire commission was torn about what to do.  Now, they hope DeBolt can come up with a plan and funding to make the repairs in the next three months, and that the building doesn’t fall down in the meantime.   On September 6th, the city discovered that the top two floors of the building had collapsed, and serious damage could be seen on the tower’s north wall.

Some commissioners believe that DeBolt does not have a credible history for action, but they’ll cross their fingers and hope for the best, for now.

DeBolt has said he needs more time to have his own structural engineer look at the building and suggest a repair plan.  He says he’s also hoping that there might be some kind of grant available.

Also at issue is the possible re-location of many historical items inside the tower.  DeBolt has collected Battle Creek artifacts for many years.    One such item is the bar from the Gaslight Restaurant, formerly located at the corner of East State and Monroe Streets in Battle Creek.  That building, and many others, including DeBolt’s building at 14 East State, was demolished to make way for the new WK Kellogg Foundation building in the late 80’s.

Gaslight Bar-Willard Library

Ferraris' Gaslight was one of Michigan's oldest bars.. The Oak Bar shown above was a Battle Creek landmark, located in that building since the 1880's.  Made of solid oak, the bar was elaborately designed with marble pillars and arm rail.