HUSTONVILLE — Most of the Hustonville Haunted House collapsed Sunday night due to rain and wind, officials said.
About 7:30 p.m., the historic building on Main Street collapsed onto Danville Pike, said Lincoln County Sheriff Curt Folger. City and county officials smelled a natural gas leak and alerted utility companies. No one was hurt, the sheriff said.
Hustonville Mayor David Peyton was called to the scene about 45 minutes before the building went down.
“About 50 bricks had fallen, but it seemed to be OK for the time being, so I headed home,” Peyton said.
The mayor quickly returned when emergency officials realized the building was going to collapse. Only the back wall is still standing, Folger said.
“All it took was some decent rain to bring it down,” Peyton said.
The haunted house had been the subject of a legal battle between the building’s owner, Paul Gray, and government officials for months.
In February, part of a wall collapsed, causing city officials to close a section of adjacent Old Liberty Road for the safety of community members. In July, Hustonville officials issued an order for Gray to remedy the situation or demolish the building.
Gray appealed the matter to the state fire marshal, who disagreed with Gray’s assertion that he was actively renovating the building and that it was not a danger to anyone.
The businessman decided not to appeal the fire marshal’s ruling. City Council members planned to discuss demolishing the building at January’s meeting and probably would have taken a vote to select a contractor to do the job.
“I think (the building’s collapse) proves that the fire chief and the fire marshal were right all along,” Peyton said.
Peyton said the city still needs a contractor to fully remove debris but that due to the situation he is hiring a company to do an emergency cleanup.
“The back wall is still there and can still pose a threat to people or the neighboring property,” Peyton said.
The mayor said it is too early to determine how much the city will pay for both cleanup projects, but it probably will be less money than City Attorney Jonathan Baker’s estimate during a recent council meeting. Baker had estimated it would cost the city at least $10,000 to demolish the building as it stood before Sunday’s collapse.
Gray, who reportedly was working inside the building hours before it collapsed, could not be reached for comment.