Historic Building Burns in Lyons: “It Just Breaks Your Heart”

Chamber of Commerce and Historical Society building will need to be razed

The historic Chamber of Commerce and Historical Society building in southwest suburban Lyons caught fire early Friday and was deemed a total loss.

The building isn't occupied and is mostly used for storage, but a portion of the building collapsed in the fire, officials said. Several fire departments were called to the building, at 3901 Joliet Road, at about 3 a.m. Crews had the fire out by 6 a.m.

No injuries were reported, but the building was a total loss and will need to be razed.

"It's the type of construction that as soon as fire gets in there it's hard to put out in time," firefighter Duane Michael said.

Towering fierce flames engulfed the historic building, gutting the century old structure.

"It just breaks your heart," resident Nadine Pankow said. "I wish we were more like Europe and saved our buildings, but we don't. Then it comes to this."

It's an especially emotional day for Margaret Dow whose ancestors once lived in the building

"My great grandfather was the foreman of building, the Hoffman Tower, and they lived there," Dow said.

Joseph Luis Dow lived in the building for 30-plus years. "He died on the second story there so it's a deep family event," she said.

The building once served as the Chamber of Commerce and even the history building, but most recently the building stood empty.

"Thank goodness we weren't here anymore," Dow said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. As the village of Lyons celebrates its 125th anniversary, it's a hard goodbye for many Lyons natives. 

"I haven't had time to absorb it," Dow said. "My sister called to tell me it burned. ... I had to come and say my last goodbyes."

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