After the roof of the old Owosso Casket Co. building fell, the city was preparing to demolish it

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OWOSSO, MI – A building that once housed the world’s largest coffin company may soon be buried after a roof collapsed earlier this week.

Owosso Town Manager Nathan Henne said on Friday, September 24 that an engineer report on the property at 216 S. Elm Street shows the building to be unsafe in its current condition and should be reinforced. or demolished.

“We are treating this as an emergency,” Henne said, and the city has two potential contractors interested in making proposals to demolish it.

“The cause of the roof collapse is neglect,” the city manager said, leading to water damage and the roof collapsing on Monday, September 20.

Until the structure is secured or removed, the city plans to keep South Elm Street closed to traffic, he said.

Although the building is not designated as a historic structure and is not in a historic district, it has been an integral part of Owosso for over 100 years.

The Owosso Historical Society website says the original Owosso Casket Factory was built on South Elm Street in 1885, but burned down three years later before being quickly rebuilt.

“Around 1913, the Owosso Casket Company was producing coffins at the rate of 150 coffins per day and business was reported to be well behind its orders due to the flu epidemic, which was killing hundreds of people. , especially young children. and the elderly in the United States, ”says the Historical Society’s website. “In the 1920s, Owosso Casket Company was the largest casket maker in the world.

The site notes that two US presidents – William McKinley and Benjamin Harrison – were buried in coffins made by the company.

City officials said in a Facebook post that the South Elm building has been vacant for many years.

Part of the building was once used for storage by Valley Lumber, Henne said, and the building is currently owned by Guerra Enterprise LLC.

“The city attorney has already sent the landlord a letter regarding the code violations with this building,” the city’s Facebook post said. “The owner subsequently began serving a prison sentence unrelated to the property and was unable to resolve construction issues.”

State records list Kimberly Guerra as a resident agent for Guerra Enterprise and state Department of Corrections records show Kimberly Guerra was sentenced to jail by the County Circuit Court of Shiawassee after being convicted of possession of child pornography and sexually abusive activities with children – distribution / promotion.

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