SHOWN IS THE SOUTH FACING side of the Matthews Building. The yellow portion is set for demolition.

(Courtesy Graphic)


The Owosso Downtown Historic District Commission (HDC) met at city hall on Wednesday evening, Jan. 19 and after a lengthy discussion, voted to approve a demolition permit from the owner of the Matthews Building in Owosso.

   The partial-demolition plan of the Matthews Building, submitted to the city, has been divided into three portions. The two portions to be demolished include the largest, eastern section on the corner of Main and Water streets and the middle section. The western section along the river will remain and plans are underway for a complete renovation of that part of the Matthews Building.

   The Matthews Building is a hybrid of several old buildings and the structural integrity of the building has been a concern for several years with a major focus on the foundation and roof – both are failing in the two portions to be demolished. Recent construction work on the third portion has shored that building up safely.

   Owosso Building Official Brad Hissong recently braved entering the Matthews Building to photograph some of the major structural concerns. Hissong presented his findings to the HDC on Wednesday. Hissong’s photos clearly showed areas where the foundation has completely disintegrated, including one area where there is no foundation left under the center support. Fragments of toilets in the basement from upper floors can be viewed in the photos. The toilets fell through and crumbled where the floor caved in from a failing roof. Hissong admitted he is not an engineer, but his photos offered strong, visual evidence in assisting the HDC to vote for the demolition.

   The partial-demolition of the Matthews Building has somewhat been complicated by the facts that it is privately owned and that it is also part of the downtown historic district. Some suggestions via social media incorrectly offer that the Matthews Building is owned/maintained by the city. The city, in fact, has often been involved in citing the structure due to lack of maintenance and upkeep for several years – involving several various owners.

   Where the HDC is concerned, the commission needed to be cautious to work within the boundaries allowed to them under law as to the fate of the historic structure. Commissioners present included Phil Hathaway, Lance Omer, Matt Van Epps, Dianne Acton, Scott Newman, Gary Wilson and Chair Steven Teich. The group, along with Owosso City Manager Nathan Henne, city attorney Scott Gould and Hissong, talked about numerous variables regarding the Matthews Building with the conclusion being in favor of the partial-demolition.

   Regarding the remaining portion of the Matthews Building and also the soon to be vacant area, site plans from the owner and his architect will have to go through Owosso Planning Commission to determine the function of the location. The HDC will also have a say as to what the remainder of the Matthews Building will look like, because the façade and appearance will be dictated by its historic significance.

   An actual date for demolition has not been set, though the project now has a green light to proceed.

Partial-Demo of Matthews was last modified: January 25th, 2022 by Karen Elford