February 18, 2013

Former Maiben’s building to be demolished

by Mitchell Kirk

— A collapsed roof, unstable walls and presence of asbestos have driven the city to demolish the former Maiben’s Laundry building at 216 N. Cicott St., scheduled to take place Tuesday.

Logansport Building Commissioner Bill Drinkwine said the roof of the building collapsed about 10 months ago. Before that, in 2010, he said an inspection exposed that asbestos was present in pipe insulation and transite paneling. Since then, the walls have shown signs of instability. Drinkwine said all of these factors led the city to urge William Cowell, the building’s owner, to take responsibility.

“He’s cooperating now based on the roof structure being caved in, but he’s not willing to do anything on his own,” Drinkwine said. “So the city was forced to basically put some up and coming pressure if he didn’t relinquish.”

Drinkwine added there are documents dating back to 2011 showing communication between the city and Cowell. Even before that, he said the city had expressed concerns to him regarding maintaining the building. Brian Herman, who lives near the dilapidated structure, said he is looking forward to it being gone.

“I think it’s great,” he said. “It’s kind of an eyesore. I think the city’s doing a great job with this kind of thing. It’ll be a little inconvenient for a while, but it’ll be worth it.”

Anita Mottley lives near the building as well and shared similar sentiments.

“It used to be a nice, employed, working place,” she said. “Now, people go along and try to bust windows and stuff. Maybe they can build something good over there.”

Drinkwine said Environmental Solutions, Inc. would be doing asbestos treatment in the building late last week and today in order to prepare for demolition Tuesday. The city contracted the demolition to B & G Construction for $30,000.

Mayor Ted Franklin said part of the funding for the demolition came from the city’s Brownfields grant it received from the Environmental Protection Agency because of the asbestos in the building.

“With the building being in such bad condition, it became kind of an emergency,” Franklin said, adding there were measures the city could take to demolish the building without Cowell’s permission. Such measures were unnecessary, however, as Cowell cooperated with the plan.

According to his obituary, Charles H. Maiben, born in Logansport in 1864, had the building built in 1911 to accommodate his expanding laundry business. It was the first steam laundry facility in Logansport.

An article in the July 10, 1928 edition of The Logansport Press states the facility employed 90 people at the time. In 1913, the company expanded into dry cleaning and carpet cleaning and even required the construction of its own power plant to supply the necessary electricity.

“The present plant is a personification of modernism,” Sauers writes. “The latest machinery and equipment are to be found under its roof and more will be added in the near future.”

The building remained in the Maiben family for over 80 years until 1992, when it was purchased from Tim Maiben by William Cowell of Camden. Cowell said he used the building for storing building materials and rented parts of it out to various businesses over the years like towing companies and auto repair shops.

Regarding the roof collapse almost a year ago that Drinkwine mentioned, Cowell said he did it intentionally, hoping to take care of the demolition himself after being approached by the city as to the building’s condition.

“I knew if I would have to tear it down, I’d have to get that part down,” Cowell said, referring to the roof.

Cowell said his lack of funds for maintaining the building along with finding the time to do so eventually conflicted with the city.

“I just wasn’t fast enough for them,” he said.

Dan Williams, superintendent of Public Works, said the department will be reducing Cicott Street between Helm Street and West Melbourne Avenue to one lane for the duration of the demolition, which he said would likely be finished by the end of the week.

Drinkwine said one building on the property was deemed structurally sound and would be left standing.

Cowell said he will use this building to continue to store what building materials he’s able to save. He also said he will be putting up a fence around the lot after all of the debris has been cleared out.

“It’ll be a nice big parking lot for a while,” Cowell said. “Hopefully it will become a potential spot for development in the future.”

Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or

For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Pharos-Tribune eEdition, or our print edition