A pre-Civil War-era commercial building didn't wait for the city of Davenport to have it demolished.

The back portion of the vacant three-story structure at 502 Brady St. crumbled to the ground shortly before 1 p.m. Saturday.

Historic Preservation Commission member Fritz Miller said he wasn't too surprised to hear of the collapse when reached Saturday. He said the commission may have made the recommendation to proceed with demolition as early as its Tuesday meeting.

"The commission is saddened by the lost of a very historic building. We were aware it was in poor shape," Miller said.

No utilities were hooked up to the building, which was vacant. Firefighters on the scene Saturday afternoon secured the area.

"Any immediate life hazard at this point is not a concern," said District Fire Chief Mike Ryan. Rehabilitation work is going on in the building immediately to the west of the structure that collapsed, but nobody is living there.

The site once housed the Temptations Show Bar, which featured topless dancing.

Last year, a group wishing to develop an African-American Heritage Center received a $25,000 Riverboat Development Authority grant to help pay for fixing up the building.

The group changed its plans, however, and put the building up for sale. The African-American Heritage Center is the deed holder on the building, according to Scott County property records.

The Scott County assessor's Web site has the property's assessed value at $41,000.

Kenneth Wilmington of the African-American Heritage Center could not be reached for comment Saturday.

Ryan said the city had ordered the building demolished because inspectors began to notice cracks getting larger and structural movement in the building.

Miller added that the building's deteriorated condition posed safety and health concerns. "I don't think any of us were going to argue with the demolition order," he said of the preservation commission.

According to the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, the structure was built in 1857, presumably by Colonel Joseph Young who was a land speculator. The three-bayed storefront has housed numerous retail and service businesses since its construction, including several saloons and restaurants.

The Young Block, 502-506 Brady St., was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.

The building was considered significant because it was a rare example of pre-Civil War commercial construction, Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs records state.

"Sadly we've lost a very early example of commercial architecture in Davenport, and it's due to neglect," said Miller, adding that the building had been "massively remodeled" over the years and had been severely damaged by fire several years ago.

"This is a cancer that erodes a block," Miller said of neglect. "When one goes down, who knows what happens to the other ones."

He pointed to the nearby Forrest Block at 4th and Brady streets as an example of restoration to preserve Davenport's historic stock. Restoration St. Louis is targeting a late 2010 opening of that massive $36 million project.

(Brian Wellner contributed to this story.)

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