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story.lead_photo.caption Demolition began Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019, at Avenue HQ and the Avenue HQ business office, located at 621 and 623 E. Capitol Ave. respectively. Photo by Julie Smith / News Tribune.

Avenue HQ co-owners Holly Stitt and Quinten Rice fought back tears Wednesday afternoon as they watched their years of hard work and dedication come crashing down.

Avenue HQ became the first tornado-damaged building on East Capitol Avenue to be demolished.

Early Wednesday afternoon, Twehous Excavating Company was in the process of demolishing 623 E. Capitol Ave., where the Avenue HQ offices were located.

The company then planned to demolish 621 E. Capitol Ave., which previously housed the Avenue HQ venue.

"I never thought I would be standing here watching my building come down, especially when I purchased it years ago," Stitt said. "Even after the tornado, I was hopeful I would be able to save it, and here I am watching it go down. It's very surreal."

Holly and Nathan Stitt purchased 619, 621 and 623 E. Capitol Ave. in 2012.

The buildings at 621 and 623 E. Capitol Ave. were deemed structurally unsafe due to the EF-3 tornado that struck Jefferson City May 22 and subsequent rain.

The tornado destroyed the second story of 623 E. Capitol Ave., and portions of the roof were collapsing. Last month Stitt put up a barrier along the side of the building facing Lafayette Street due to the roof shifting.

Bricks from the building at 623 E. Capitol Ave., constructed in 1905, have been falling onto the roof of 621 E. Capitol Ave., built in 1975. The tornado caused the roof of 621 E. Capitol Ave. to collapse and fill the large space with rubble.

"It's the giant reset button that I never expected to happen, but it all happens for a reason and we'll get it figured out and keep moving on," Rice said, pausing to watch a large chunk of the wall crash to the ground and create a cloud of smoke.

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Constructed in 1964, the building at 619 E. Capitol Ave. lost its roof and sustained damage inside. Campus Coworking Space was located in 619 E. Capitol Ave. before the business moved to 609 E. High St. in June.

Stitt previously told the News Tribune the building at 619 E. Capitol Ave. would be demolished, but she said Wednesday she was still hopeful she could salvage the building. However, she will not know for certain until Twehous Excavating demolishes 621 E. Capitol Ave., which is connected to 619 E. Capitol Ave.

A structural engineer will re-assess 619 E. Capitol Ave. after the demolitions of 621 and 623 E. Capitol Ave. to determine if 619 E. Capitol Ave. can be salvaged, Stitt said.

She and Rice plan to rebuild 623 E. Capitol Ave. and return it to its original glory.

"I think it's kind of a mission and a goal to help and be a positive part of this area again," Rice said.

They salvaged several architectural features from 623 E. Capitol Ave., and Twehous Excavating even helped with the salvaging, giving Stitt several corbels they saved while demolishing the building.

Stitt and Rice said they are unsure what the new building at 623 E. Capitol Ave. will be used for or what they will construct at 621 E. Capitol Ave.

Stitt said she is not sure when she will start rebuilding.

"No matter what the future holds, this is still my corner and this is where I feel like home," Stitt said.

As other East Capitol Avenue property owners work to repair their tornado-damaged homes, Jefferson City residents are waiting to see what other historic properties will come down. Property owner Frank Burkhead previously told the News Tribune he plans to demolish the Dallmeyer House at 600 E. Capitol Ave.

Avenue HQ co-owner Holly Stitt smiles Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019, after the demolition operator handed her three plaster corbels he was able to salvage from under the eaves of her building at 623 E. Capitol Ave. Being able to save some of the pieces from the building, originally built in 1905, helps to lessen the pain of losing the entire building to demolition after the May 22, 2019, tornado.
Photo by Julie Smith/News Tribune.
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