Now that the fire is out, the biggest question for the owners, the Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association, is how they can restore the historic building. The organization says they were saddened by the tragedy or their most cherished structure which burned right before their eyes.
The fire left the front portion of the 86-year-old building leaning forward with no interior structure to safely hold it upright. City leaders and fire officials are concerned that some of the front structure may need to be torn down to ensure no one gets hurt. Hattiesburg's mayor says he would like to save the building, but safety comes first.
"The first step--we have to make sure that it's structurally sound," says Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree, "and if it's structurally sound, then anything is possible."
Dupree says an architect and structural engineer are scheduled to assess the building to determine how much of it can be saved.
Joe White with the Historic Hattiesburg Association says, "The engineers will be telling us, we hope very quickly, how much of the front of the building that has to come down. We want as little as possible to minimize our cost of reconstruction because as I said, we plan to move forward."