MILFORD, Del. - The windows of Warren Furniture Store in Milford remain boarded up.
"You could still smell the smoke. I park right alongside of Warren Furniture and so I can smell the ash. It has that wood stove scent, said Teri Carter, owner of EcoChic Boutique in Milford.
Carter's store is just feet away from Warren Furniture - a more than 80-year old store that burned nearly two months ago.
"It's really sad because I saw Mr. Warren everyday when I came to work. It's like losing a family member because we're so close knit downtown," said Carter.
Susan Betts works at Mispillion Art League. Warren Furniture is a short distance away. Betts says the store was a staple in the community.
"When I was young there was always people in the street, it was always busy and the Warren Furniture store was part of that," said Betts.
The Delaware State Fire Marshals Office ruled the fire to be accidental and caused by an electrical failure on the showroom of the first floor.
Lee Nelson, executive director of Downtown Milford Incorporated, says he's not sure yet what will happen to the building.
"Whatever it does going forward, I hope it would contribute to the vitality of downtown and fit in with our other businesses so that they compliment each other," said Nelson.
Some who live and work in the area say if the store can't be saved, they'd like to see retail space on the first and second floors of the building. Others say adding office space and even apartments on the third floor would keep the area viable.
Betts says she would like to keep some of the buildings history.
"You hate to see us lose more and more of the buildings and stores that at one time made this such a lively place," said Betts.
Nelson says downtown is becoming a lively place with new businesses are moving in. Nelson says if Warren Furniture cannot be salvaged, other opportunities may exist.
"If we could have that critical link in the middle, being Warren Furniture, divided up into smaller areas that would be a nice link between the two areas for both the growing area on South Front Street and Walnut Street.," said Nelson.
Tuesday, May 21 2013 11:25 AM EDT2013-05-21 15:25:37 GMT
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