Newark firefighters on the scene Sunday morning of what had been a two-alarm fire in downtown Newark a day earlier said that the historic Avalon Building suffered such significant damage from fire and water that it may not be salvageable.

A fire alarm sounded around 10:30 a.m. Saturday in the 124-year-old building at 86 W. Main St., and a significant portion of the roof structure was damaged by fire, causing the roof on the east end of the building to collapse.

The east wall of the building, facing 5th Street, was significantly damaged by fire and water, fire officials said, and water continued to flow inside the building on Sunday morning because firefighters had been unable to turn off water to the building. The instability of the east wall could doom the building, one fire official said on Sunday.

The Advocate reported that fire crews from Granville and Heath assisted Newark firefighters on Saturday, March 23, and that residents of the apartments were safely evacuated and that the Red Cross was helping them with temporary housing.

The building, which is across Main Street from the Licking County Library, was saved from demolition and renovated for affordable housing in 2004. A brochure compiled by the library to explain the history of downtown Newark buildings says the Avalon Building was built by Alva Wilcox around the year 1900. “Originally it housed many shops and offices, along with apartments,” the walking tour brochure says. “The architectural style of the structure is late Second Empire, which was popular during the Victorian era.”

Alan Miller

Alan Miller teaches journalism and writes for, the nonprofit news organization of Denison University's Journalism Program. He is the former executive editor of The Columbus Dispatch and former Regional Editor for Gannett's 21-newsroom USAToday Network Ohio.