The historic downtown building was ravaged by fire, displacing three families and two businesses

NAPLES — The village of Naples will lose its oldest standing commercial building following last week’s fire that displaced three families and two businesses. The pre-Civil War building at the corner of Main and Mill streets is posted unsafe and surrounded by yellow tape; a portion of Mill Street is also blocked off.

Insurance adjusters have declared the building a total loss, said Naples Code Enforcement Officer Frank Mueller. The two-story, balloon-frame constructed building was remodeled in the 1960s and again in the 1980s. Still, the blaze caused the roof to cave in on the first and second floors and there was massive smoke and water damage, he said.

Mueller said the structure at 102 N. Main St. won’t be an easy demolition due to its proximity to neighboring buildings. Mueller said he is in contact with the building owner, Dr. Wayne Chanler, who is in the process of getting quotes from demolition companies.

Mayor Brian Schenk said many would like to see a rebuild, including Chanler. Schenk said the village is exploring whether it could help through the Office of Community Renewal, which administers a state grant program.

Naples Historian John Murphy is among those praising the volunteer firefighters who helped rescue those in the building and got the fire under control to save the neighborhood. The Naples Historical Society posted a number of photos of the building through the decades and invited others to add to the collection. “The building was an important cornerstone in our community for a long time and it is featured in many old photos and postcards,” the Naples Historical Society posted on its Facebook page.

A smoldering cigarette on a second-floor deck of the building is believed to have started the fire that ripped through the building just after 2:30 a.m. Aug. 5. The fire displaced seven people — three families — and two businesses that had operated in the building — a karate academy and massage therapy business. Efforts are underway to help those affected by the fire. That includes donations through the Naples Open Closet/Open Cupboard.