(03/01/13) - Five months ago, fire heavily damaged a building that once was the heart of a small Mid-Michigan business district.
Friday, the building was demolished. Those who live in Byron say the village won't be the same without it.
The fire that destroyed a long-standing hardware store and a popular restaurant was a huge set back for Byron.
Investigators determined it was a case of arson, but no arrests have been made.
The fire didn't just ruin the building - it marred the fond memories of the owners.
"My dad started this store in 1951 and we bought him out in 1980," said Shirley Mack, building owner.
Now demolition equipment is ripping it apart, and Shirley and her husband Marvin have no plans to rebuild.
"No! We are retiring. He turned 79 in July and I just turned 76. Time to retire," Shirley said.
The hardware store and restaurant will be missed by those who live in the area.
"It's a part of history. We've been here since 1977 and it's been part of our life," said Bryan Mickelson, of Byron.
While the fire was devastating for Byron, the aftermath has brought people closer. The Masonic Lodge is hosting a series of ethnic dinners to let residents know all is not lost.
"I guess I just had the idea to help out," said Larry Judson, of the Byron Masonic Lodge.
The Macks doubt if anyone would be interested in developing the property, so Shirley plans to plant a lawn there and enjoy the beauty of the nearby river.
"I'm putting one bench on the bank for me to sit on and watch the canoes go by," she said.
The building is 118 year old. It was built during a time when villages like Byron were so important to the surrounding community. That era may have passed.
ABC12 Main Station