It was a year ago Monday that flames destroyed five buildings in downtown Wagoner.
Five months later, another fire destroyed a sixth building.
The City voted last week to preserve the buildings, which is a delicate process that will take four weeks before the city hosts the Bluegrass and Chili Festival.
That process will start Tuesday morning. Each brick will come down by hand, one-by-one, to make what’s ruined look like new again.
A year after the fire, fencing is still up on Main Street, blocking off the six historic buildings destroyed by fires.
Jennifer Garcia owns Rock-N-Mama Boutique. Her store now sits across the street from the damaged buildings, but several years ago, she was set up inside Game Time Nutrition, which was lost in the flames.
“When we were going to move down here, everyone’s like, ‘you’re crazy to move down there, it’s a ghost town,’” said Garcia.
Garcia decided to call Main Street home again, even after the fire, believing downtown will soon be the place to be.
“To imagine, in six weeks it’s going to be completely gone and clean up. That’s amazing,” she said.
Wagoner Mayor Albert Jones says, “I know the business owners on this side have really been waiting.”
Jones says one particular building is a large part of the holdup.
In 1898, it was the only place in Indian Territory where people could get alcohol. It went out of business and became Owl Drug, which was open for more than 100 years.
“I see the potential that something can be put back the way it was in 1898,” said Jones.
And that’s the goal – each brick on the face of the five buildings will come down by hand.
“Brick-by-brick, one at a time, cleaned and palletized, marked, and put in storage,” Jones explained.
“That’s the first I’ve heard, and that’s phenomenal,” said Garcia. “I would love to see it look as close to possible as it did.”
The police and fire chiefs say they may never know the cause of the first fire that destroyed five buildings, but they say the second fire was likely started by someone trying to stay warm.