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401 Meeker St Delta CO 81416 970.874.4421

Mural, historic building seriously damaged

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Photo by Pat Sunderland The northwestern corner of the Davis Clothing building is boarded over and the sidewalk has been closed to pedestrian traffic until repairs can be made. Connie Williams, the artist who painted the mural on the side of the building,

It's business as usual at Davis Clothing, thanks to a legion of friends who stepped in to help dust and vacuum the interior of the store after a Grand Junction woman rammed her RV through the side of the building.

Owner Brad Davis was just sitting down to his Thanksgiving meal when his phone rang shortly after 2:30 p.m. When he heard his store had been struck by a vehicle, he assumed a car had veered off Main Street and into his plate glass windows.

Instead, Amy Baudien, 44, of Grand Junction allegedly struck the north side of the historic building at the corner of 4th and Main. Witnesses reportedly saw Baudien ram through the wall, back up and then apparently hit it again before fleeing the scene. Davis believes the second impact was not a malicious act, but occurred because Baudein was trying to leave the scene in a hurry.

Officers from the Delta Police Department contacted Baudien a few blocks from the scene at 6th and Silver. Her 1986 Cruiser motor home had a cracked windshield and extensive front end damage. Bricks dislodged from the wall of Davis Clothing were caught in the vehicle's grill and resting on the dash of the motor home. Officers immediately suspected Baudien of driving while intoxicated and according to the accident report, found a small number of liquor bottles strewn on the roadway. Dispatch notified officers Baudien had a revoked driver's license and six active restraints. She was the only occupant of the vehicle.

When asked by officers, she admitted she'd been drinking since about 8:30 that morning. An accident report filed Nov. 24 indicates she failed to complete roadside maneuvers. She declined to be transported to the hospital by ambulance, but because she had been in an accident, officers took her to the hospital for medical clearance. She was then taken to Delta County Jail, where she was charged with leaving the scene of an accident, DUI and driving while license revoked.

Davis boarded up the opening in the wall, picked up the largest pieces of mortar and brick, and went back home to finish his Thanksgiving meal.

"It looked like a bomb had gone off," Davis said.

On Friday morning, about 30 friends showed up to pick up the remaining bricks and mortar. Despite dusting and vacuuming numerous times, there's still a fine powder on store fixtures.

The opening in the wall roughly follows the lines of an old archway that was used to bring horses in and out of the livery stable that originally occupied the building. Built in 1884, the building was home to Shields Livery until 1907. That was the year Emory Brothers, a clothing store in Paonia, expanded to Delta's Main Street. John W. Davis, Brad's grandfather, joined the staff of Emory Brothers in 1910 and two years later, bought into the business. The business was handed down to John's son, Melbert, and then to Brad. Davis Clothing has been in the family for a total of 104 years.

When the store in Paonia closed, many of the fixtures were moved to Delta. The accident narrowly missed a towering wall of those shelves.

Ron Murphy, an experienced construction project engineer, is donating his expertise to direct repairs. During a meeting with Karl Schwinn, KS Construction, and Dan Reardon, city building inspector, on Monday he outlined the steps to be taken over the next few days. A structural engineer will be contacted, the damaged wall will be shored up, and he will work with the city to ensure safe passage for pedestrians on West 4th Street. Murphy is also spearheading fundraising efforts, since Davis is not insured and it's not likely Baudien is, either. Davis said he has not been able to obtain building insurance because of antiquated electrical wiring. He plans to look at updating that system at the same time as repairs are taking place.

Information about fundraisers can be obtained from Brad Davis at 874-4370.

The accident also wiped out a portion of one of Delta's most popular murals, a colorful rendering of local fruit labels completed by Connie Williams in 1988. Williams said Monday the damage can definitely be repaired.

The mural was done with sign painter enamels, which she said never change colors and can easily be found. Each label is its own unit, which will also make it easier to repair. Williams said she still has the original labels, which were enlarged and projected onto the side of the building so they could faithfully be reproduced.

But because she's quite a few years older now, Williams jokes that it may take her as long to fix the mural as it did to create the original 28 years ago.

"I've been thrilled to death the murals have lasted this long," said Williams, who painted three of Delta's murals in three consecutive summers.

This mural, a favorite among locals and visitors, is also dear to Williams' heart. Her family has been growing fruit in the area almost as long as Davis Clothing has been in existence. "This mural represents all of Delta County," she said.

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