PICHER – A decades-old building that was part of the original mining community partially collapsed overnight, city officials said this morning. The collapse was apparently not related to any old mining activities or weather problems but simply due to the age of the building, a spokeswoman at city hall said.
The two-story abandoned building, which was owned by Gloria Garner, was about two blocks south of city hall, city officials said. The roof and the left side of the building collapsed and sent debris onto the crumbling sidewalk and street. At one time the building held the original Picher post office and during the 1960s and 1970s the upper floor was used as a Masonic Lodge and the lower floor held Keithley’s Market. The building had been used for storage for the past 20 years. Picher was founded in 1917 and flourished as a mining community until the mine companies shut down, leaving countless environmental and health problems for its residents. Along with Cardin and Hockerville, Picher is part of a $60 million federally funded buyout of lead-polluted homes and businesses. The buyout was initiated after a 2006 report showed decades of mining left hundreds of homes, businesses and churches that could potentially cave in.