By Alyssa Schnugg
An emergency meeting of the Courthouse Square Preservation Commission has been called for Friday morning to consider the demolition of the former 208 restaurant building on the southside of the downtown Square in Oxford.
On Thursday, Building Official Chris Carter was called to 208 S. Lamar Blvd. by structural engineer Chad Fowler. According to Mayor Robyn Tannehill, the contractor was installing the bracing system when an interior section of the brick that was behind the plaster was exposed and revealed loose bricks.
After reviewing the concerns of the structural engineer, Carter determined the building was not safe.
“To protect the public, the sidewalks and parking spaces in front of the building were closed,” Tannehill said this morning. “As an extra precaution, the west lane of South Lamar Boulevard is also closed. The safety of our citizens is our top concern and certainly our first consideration in this instance.”
The meeting will be held at 9 a.m. on Friday at City Hall. The commission will evaluate the condition of the building, the structural engineer’s report, the building official’s assessment and the criteria for granting a demolition as defined by the Historic Preserviation Ordinance.
The commission denied a request to demolish the building in November, but did later approve the demolition of the south wall.
The location has been home to a slew of restaurants over the years including Grundy’s, Smitty’s, 208 and more recently, Stella Restaurant and Bar.
Currently, the building is owned by chef and restauranter John Currence and the City Grocery Restaurant Group who are planning to open a new po’boy restaurant in the building, which is located next to Square Books.
Built in 1880, the building has been renovated several times since with a major overhaul in 1945.
The renovation includes creating an upstairs rum-themed bar with a balcony.