If you're in downtown Exeter, you might notice a gaping hole left behind after a portion of the rock and granite foundation at an historic 19th-century building along the String Bridge collapsed, most likely over the weekend. It seems the recent heavy rains took a toll on the old foundation, and now we have to wait and see what happens when more rain moves in this week.
Assistant Fire Chief Ken Berkenbush said he's worried the building could fall into the Squamscott River if the foundation isn't fixed up soon. “If it continues to erode and the foundation continues to deteriorate, the building will fall into the river,” he said.
There are also fears about a 1,000-gallon oil tank at the front of the building. “If the building goes we’re concerned that will go as well. That would be an environmental catastrophe for this area,” Ken said.
The building is the only one along the river supported by large rocks stacked on top of each other. It houses the Exeter Investment Company and offices for several local therapists, counselors, and other businesses.
Building Inspector Doug Eastman said that while the structural integrity of the foundation has been compromised, the building itself appears to be safe...at least for now.