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Historic Owosso Casket Company building to be demolished in the coming days

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Historic Owosso Casket Company building to be demolished in the coming days

OWOSSO, Mich. (WJRT) - What goes up, must come down.

That is the case for this historic building in Owosso.

Some structural engineers now literally calling it a 'death hazard.'

It's a historic building that's been a part of the Owosso community for more than 100 years. And in the coming days, it's likely going to be coming down.

"Back in September the roof caved in. There was a bystander walking past and heard this large noise, and the roof started coming down," said Owosso City Manager Nathan Henne.

Henne is talking about the old Owosso Casket Company building on South Elm Street.

The building's structure and stability is literally in jeopardy the longer the building stands.

The city, in the last several months, has tried working with the building's owner who is serving an unrelated prison sentence right now to address the structural concerns, but had not been in talks with the city.

The city ended up going to the courts to ask for and grant permission to demo the building.

"No representative of the current owner who is serving a prison term showed up, the judge is like okay well this makes sense," said Henne. 

The now crumbling structure was once a casket producing powerhouse.

According to the Owosso Historical Commission, around 1913, the building was making around 150 caskets per day struggling to keep up with demand because of the ongoing flu epidemic.

By 1920 Owosso Casket Company was considered the world's largest casket maker. By the late 1930's during the Great Depression, the company liquidated its assets.

It has sat vacant besides being used for storage ever since that time period.

It might be odd, or maybe fitting how one person characterized the building recently.

"The city had a third party engineer call it a death hazard. You can't get any more clear than that."

The city of Owosso is waiting on Consumers Energy to disconnect the utilities before demolition can begin, which could happen any day now.

Interesting fact about the Owosso Casket Company, two U.S. presidents are buried in caskets made by the company, Benjamin Harrison and William McKinley.

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