‘I’m really sad to see it go’: Building that once was popular bar for C-SC students collapses in downtown Canton

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A "before" look at OC's on the corner of Fifth and Clark and an "after" look following the building's collapse on Monday afternoon. The rest of the building was razed later Monday. | Photos courtesy of Fretwell and Associates Real Estate (left) and the Canton Police Department

CANTON, Mo. — A building that used to be a popular bar for Culver-Stockton College students and alumni collapsed Monday afternoon and was demolished hours later.

Tycher Blakely, chief of the Canton Police Department, said OC’s at the corner of Fifth and Clark collapsed “around 2:15 or 2:30 p.m.” 

“There were some workers in there, and they knew there were some building integrity issues and they were trying to work to kind of fix it up or try to get it to where it would be able to be manageable again,” Blakely said, “While they were working on it, it started actually collapsing on the workers. Luckily, nobody got injured or anything like that.”

Canton Mayor Sharon Upchurch visited the scene shortly after the building’s collapse. She said Pierce Trucking and Excavating knocked down the rest of the building late Monday afternoon. Dump trucks are expected to come in Tuesday to remove the rubble.

Blakely said the building had been uninhabited for at least five years. Upchurch said the building recently was bought by Linda Duncan, who also owns Pub 314, a bar and restaurant at 314 Lewis in Canton.

“Linda bought it not very long ago with the intent of turning it back into something useful,” Upchurch said. “I’m really sad to see it go.”

Upchurch said it was one of the historic African American buildings in the city along with Second Baptist Church and Lincoln School, a former school for the African American children of Canton in Martin Park. 

“The problem with the building is that it’s been owned by people who have not taken care of it, at least in recent years,” the mayor said. “It had gotten bat-infested in the attic, and they had cleaned all that out. If you don’t take care of an inanimate object for a while, things like this happen. It’s just been owned by a series of folks who wanted to take every dime out of it that they could get and not put any dimes back in it.”

Upchurch said local contractor Jim Crenshaw and a crew of his employees were in the building earlier Monday. 

“Jim has lots of experience working with buildings that don’t have roofs and are in that kind of shape, so he is very meticulous about what he does,” she said. “He was in there (Monday) and said he heard (the building) move. He thought, well, they’ll just go to lunch and come back.

“When they came back, Jim walked in and said it was still moving. I don’t know what clued him that he better get the heck out of there, but he did just in the nick of time.”

A description of OC’s when it was being sold by Fretwell and Associates Real Estate said the bar was first opened in the 1970s by Oscar Charles “O.C.” Shuman. The two-story building, built in 1885, had more than 3,300 square feet. It became known for the annual Culver-Stockton homecoming block party.

Upchurch said many alums will be sad to hear of the building’s collapse.

“I told (Duncan) I wanted a brick, and I was just going to pick one up,” she said. “(Duncan) said, ‘No, I’ll get you a good one.’ Then she said, ‘Maybe I should just keep a bunch of them because when the alumni come back for homecoming, there’ll be who will want to buy one.’

“Yeah, there will be people who will be very upset (to hear the news). I just went around the corner and down Sixth Street, and when I looked back, it looked so odd (not to see OC’s).”

Charlie Nager, a 1984 graduate of the college and a former member of the C-SC Alumni Board now living in the St. Louis area, remembers visiting OC’s as a student and as an alum.

“After a hard day studying on the hill and socializing in the cafeteria and working out in the weight room for football, it was always good to relax at OC’s for a couple of cold beers,” Nager said. “No doubt about it.

“It hasn’t been open for a number of homecomings, but of course, we always drove by it and had a beer in front of it and talked about good times.”

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