Heavy demolition takes down Ellis Bros building

By Haley Burton
By Kelly McCarthy

May 27, 2014 Updated May 27, 2014 at 5:21 PM EST

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The Ellis Brothers Contemporary Furniture Store is expected to be demolished Tuesday.

All four stories of the building were knocked down by early afternoon.

The building has been used to sell furniture for the past 70 years but has been in the Ellis family for even longer.

The Ellis family watched as crews tore down the family-owned building with heavy machinery.

"Watching the building go is like watching an old friend go," said co-owner Tom Ellis.

Demolition of the contemporary furniture store was not what the family wanted, but last week the City said the building's structural damage is public safety hazard. The building was heavily damaged in a fire on April 30.

"It has posed a public safety hazard," Ellis said, "And in the interest of our neighbors, obviously the inconvenience we've caused down here, it's time that we move forward with this."

The Ellis family has been selling furniture out of the building for the past 70 years but it's been in the family for much longer. They will be keeping pieces of the demolition because the building means so much to the family.

"Just you know maybe a brick or a piece of hardware," Ellis said, "There's been some memorabilia that's literally fallen at our feet so we just grabbed a few things."

Crowds of people joined the family to watch all four stories come crashing down.

"I've been down for a couple hours now, and it's just going to be very weird walking past every day and not seeing the building," said Cassandra Lewis of Binghamton.

One of the spectators, Neil Cass of Binghamton, is a former employee for the Ellis Brothers. He drove truck loads of furniture to and from the store for eight years.

"It's a tear jerker. I'm fighting them back," Neil said, "I'm sure the family is too."

While watching the original building come down, plans for a future one are already in the works.

"We know we have to find another location," Ellis said.

The Ellis Family is getting support by two Broome County Legislators. Tony Fiala (D-District 13) and Jason Garnar (D-District 14) are sponsoring a resolution that will waive 50 percent of the tipping fee for the building's demolition.

Water Street will remain closed while the demolition continues, according to the city. After the building is down, the lane closest to Boscovs will reopen.

The city said both lanes of traffic on Water Street will re-open once all of the debris removed, which could take about three weeks.