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GROTON — In a report to the Board of Selectmen last Monday night, town manager Mark Haddad said that it was the intention of George Pergantis, owner of the Groton Inn, to demolish the remains of the historic structure following a fire that devastated the building two weeks before.

Haddad told selectmen that the charred rubble, virtually all that remains of the 333-year-old building, has been secured and is in the process of being evaluated by representatives of the National Park Service to see if some portion of the structure can be preserved or if any artifacts can be saved.

The town manager said that although Pergantis has expressed a willingness to work with any buyer who might be interested in the property and preserving the building, the remains of the Inn currently present a potential danger to the public.

“The building is a hazard,” admitted Haddad. “Something has to be done. We can’t leave it in the state it is. Public safety rules the day.”

The centuries old Groton Inn was destroyed by a fire two weeks ago, a fire whose origin is yet to be determined. The fire totaled the historic structure and has left a blackened shell overlooking Main Street in the heart of the downtown district.

A number of area companies in addition to Groton’s own Fire Department fought the blaze and were able to limit damage to the inn, preserving other buildings on the property including two in the rear that Pergantis had been renting out as apartments.

Although the two buildings escaped damage, town officials noticed a number of pre-existing code violations and have prevented tenants from returning until the infractions have been addressed.

In the meantime, the apartment buildings have been condemned by health agent Ira Grossman; a decision that has been supported by the Board of Health that has since authorized lifting of the condemnation order only after water and electricity has been reestablished and an exterior stair and doorway fixed in accordance with zoning bylaws.

The delay in getting his tenants back into their homes has placed a financial strain on Pergantis who continues to work to bring the buildings up to code.

Haddad told selectmen last Monday night that except for the BOH, which is overseeing mitigation of the code violations, all other town boards and committees are moving forward cooperatively with the owner to help ease his situation.

“The town is here to support him,” said Haddad of a meeting held this week between concerned boards and committees which Pergantis also attended. “But ultimately responsibility for the building is his.”

Haddad assured selectmen that at the morning meeting, Pergantis confirmed his intention to demolish the remains of the Inn but would work with the town in efforts to preserve whatever artifacts it wants to recover from the rubble.

“It has been a good collaborative effort,” concluded Haddad of efforts between Pergantis and town boards and committees to deal with the aftermath of the tragic conflagration.

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