Capital Plaza Hotel plays host to implosion parties and a church service

Josh Bergeron / josh.bergeron@state-journal.com – From left: Matson Wainwright, Melissa Wainwright, Mickenna Wainwright, Joy Jeffries, Linda Brown, Bill Brown and Ann Snelling post for a photo Sunday in Jeffries’ apartment in the Capital Plaza Hotel.

Joy Jeffries’ apartment at the top of the Capital Plaza Hotel provided more than a sweeping view of the tower’s implosion on Sunday.

It was also the site of a small church service.

Worried that it’d be a tough task to attend church, travel back to the Capital Plaza Hotel and find a parking space, Jeffries and about 15 other people held an “Implosion Sunday” church service in her apartment. Jeffries played her keyboard to accompany music during the service. Bill Brown, a pastor who also lives in the building, led the service.

“Goodbye, old friend,” the service’s printed program stated.

Like any other church service in Frankfort on Sunday, the Capital Plaza service included songs and scripture readings.

“We said, ‘Let’s go up before it comes down,'” Brown joked.

A few attendees, including Brown and his wife, Linda, were also at Jeffries’ apartment on Sunday afternoon to watch the implosion. None of the eight or so people who watched the implosion from Jeffries apartment said they were particularly sad to see it go.

“I was in the bottom of that thing the first time they did a presentation about why the building needed to come down, and while we were sitting there in the basement of that tower I was thinking, “Dear God, let us get out of here before this falls in,” Jeffries said. “I mean it was that scary.”

Instead, Jeffries, who served as executive director of the Frankfort/Franklin County Tourist & Convention Commission for many years, said she was saddened by the demolition of the adjacent Frankfort Convention Center.

“From the way I’ve watched how hard of a time they’ve had taking it down, it proves to me it wasn’t in that bad of shape,” she said. “I feel fairly certain they could have fixed it more economically than tearing it down, but that’s what they did.”

For Chester Snelling, who was the concrete foreman during construction of the tower in 1972, there was a certain sadness to Sunday’s implosion because of the many long hours he spent working on it.

“It was just concrete all day long, and, you know, there was a good amount of overtime, too,” Snelling said.

However, Snelling said he understands the reasoning behind the decision.

“If it’s not safe, it’s not safe,” he said.

In particular, the design of the building was poor, he said. Bathrooms, elevators and other facilities consumed a large portion of the center of the Capital Plaza Tower, leaving relatively little room for office space, Snelling said.

It’s projected that a new office building planned for the site will house 1,500 employees — more than the number who worked in the tower before it was vacated.

MicKenna Wainwright, a senior at Western Hills High School and Jeffries’ granddaughter, said it “makes sense” that the Capital Plaza Tower was demolished.

“We’ve heard that there’s problems with the structure of it, and the things they’re planning to do with it are going to be beneficial,” she said.

Like her grandmother, Wainwright didn’t understand the decision to tear down the Frankfort Convention Center.

“There are just so many things that happen at the convention center, and it’s brought so many people to Frankfort,” she said.

Jeffries’ apartment at the top of the Capital Plaza Hotel was just one of many that hosted gatherings for the tower’s implosion.

A number of people also booked hotel rooms to watch the implosion, said General Manager Carol Jones. At least two parties were scheduled.

Jones said she’s excited to see the Capital Plaza redevelopment move forward, especially the new construction.

Jones stressed that the Capital Plaza Hotel will not be torn down as part of the redevelopment, saying he’s been asked many times about the possibility by members of the general public.

 

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