Tuesday morning Denton lost a long time Denton business downtown to a 4-alarm fire. Luckily, because of the quick response from surrounding fire departments and the inclusion of firewalls in the downtown infrastructure, there was no loss of life and the fire was contained. Read on for our reflections on the Mini Mall and ways you can help out.
For Denton-dwellers young and old, there have been many an afternoon spent wandering the antique-filled aisles at the Mini Mall. If the barrels of swords didn’t beckon you in, something deep in your soul led you through the doors to find buried treasure among the many small vendor spaces packed with curiosities. Unfortunately, Tuesday morning was full of shock as area fire departments helped suppress the flames that rose from the Mini Mall. Thankfully, because of the resilience of the firewalls, and the quick response of our fire department, the fire was contained and no lives were lost.
The fire managed to destroy the entirety of the Mini Mall location - damaging surrounding businesses as well. The original Mini Mall location’s roof collapsed, and the back wall had to be removed so that the fire department could access the interior and put out any remaining fires. For now, what remains are the burned remnants of the interior and the still standing historic facades.
This isn’t the first fire on the square, though. 23 years ago a fire on the west side of the square destroyed three storefronts. Of course, there were the infamous Prairie Match fires in the 1800’s, and even our courthouse was rebuilt because of a fire. However, this is the most significant property loss on the Denton square in 23 years. From a preservation standpoint, fire damage is terrifying, as it cares not what it leaves behind. At this point, we’re lucky that the facades are still standing, and are hopefully salvageable.
Here is a little more of what we know, the closest buildings to Mini Mall took on the most damage. All of the businesses affected are working through the process of clean-up and restoration, and working hard to figure out opening dates.
Jupiter House took on a large part of the damage, with extensive smoke and water damage. Owner Joey Hawkins posted video footage of his walkthrough of his building with the fire department. For now, his business is closed, but he is hoping to re-open later this month.
Hooligans, La Di Da, and Shop the Barn are all also closed for now, to assess damage, go through the process of cleaning up smoke and water damage, and getting their shops ready for re-opening. Many are hoping to re-open soon, likely in the next few weeks.
8 residents were temporarily displaced because of the fire. Many of the residents will be able to return to their apartments, and any of the remaining apartments are being relocated.
The downtown historic Denton County Courthouse did take in enough smoke through their HVAC system that they have soot damage on the interior. Because of the historic nature of the courthouse, they will be closed for the next couple of weeks so that conservators can come in and begin the cleanup process. Soot and smoke will discolor artifacts, so the entire courthouse and everything in it will need to be cleaned. According to the Denton County historic officer, the entire process could take up to a year. They’ll soon reopen, but they’ll have to shut down select parts as they work on cleaning the different parts of the courthouse throughout the year.
Luckily in Denton, we are blessed with a responsive and outstanding community. We’ve seen an incredible response our community - with people ready to jump in and help. So we’ve done the digging, and have a few ways in which you can lend a hand. (For those who want to jump in and get in on the cleanup action - please do not do that - as this is definitely a job for professionals.)
Help fund a few different needs:
Keep up the shopping on the square:
When retail in an area undergoes damage, it can hurt the remaining retail in the area. Currently, the area with fire damage is gated off, but does not take up much street parking, and is pretty much only keeping people off of one side of the sidewalk. Don’t let this keep you from hanging out downtown. Keep your dinner reservations, keep shopping local, keep drinking coffee downtown and supporting the square businesses. Mini Mall II even opened back up today, so make sure to stop by and show them some love. When the affected businesses reopen, support them. Show up and tip your baristas and bartenders, grab some accessories from La Di Da, and find some great antiques from the pickers at Shop the Barn. In the meantime, keep shopping the square as usual.