Crews demolish Roberts' Shoes building in Minneapolis after devastating fire

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Crews worked to demolish the former Roberts' Shoes buliding on the corner of Minneapolis’ Lake Street and Chicago Avenue Wednesday, several days after a fire hollowed out the well-known haven for artists and creatives and led authorities to deem the building "structurally unsound."

Fire department officials also said Wednesday are unsure of what caused the fire because the structure was too dangerous to enter and conduct further investigation.

Minneapolis native Anna Brown said that she lost a slice of her childhood in the blaze and returned Wednesday to document the demolition of the historic building. It was here where Brown, who grew up in south Minneapolis, got her childhood shoes.

“It’s a piece of history,” she said. “It was not just a store, it’s a part of the community. It’s been here forever.”

For local artist Greta McLain, the heartbreak is just as painful.

“That was where we got our Chuck Taylors, and to see the building go down, it feels like a big historic moment in Minneapolis,” she said.

McLain had a mural destroyed in the blaze, one of the many pieces artists lost in the fire.

Flames destroyed everything, including the modest artist studios and several businesses that called East Lake Street home. Some captured the destruction of their livelihoods on their own cell phones.

Some of the demolition work, meanwhile led to significant roof damage and destroyed several pipes in the building next door, causing flooding when debris apparently rained down overnight.

A Minneapolis nonprofit serving the local Latinx community called "Clues" occupies that space, and representatives for the organization say they'll now be forced to operate outside of the building for a few months until repairs can be made. Luckily, they say, through business partners and other locations they should be able to make the situation work.