Building falls on South Range home

SOUTH RANGE – A long-abandoned South Range building partially gave way Tuesday night.

The upper wall of the building at 31 First St. fell against the house next door around 7 p.m. Tuesday, said Lelia Wiles, who lives in the home next door. She said the wall had been leaning progressively farther before finally giving way.

“I have an 11-year-old boy and an 18-year-old girl, and they both happened to be home when it happened,” she said at her house Wednesday. “They said it was pretty scary.”

In a 1999 Daily Mining Gazette article, Leo Lucchesi, a childhood resident of the vacant building, said his former home was built around 1910 and used by his father as a livery stable. His father expanded it into a bus service in the mid-1910s, eventually selling the bus business to Copper Range Co. in 1928.

The family then started Range Oil and Gas Company.

The building was already vacant at the time of a March 1999 electrical fire that gutted it.

Wiles’ father, Jerzy Wisniewski, who owns the home next door, said the building had reverted to the Department of Natural Resources after the former owner had not paid property taxes. He said he had contacted the DNR to get the building torn down, but was rebuffed because of the site’s historical significance.

“For 10 to 12 years, we’ve been trying to get something done with that building,” he said.