Early Sunday morning was the end of an era. A downtown Wheeling icon slipped into history.
The Main Street side of the old G. C. Murphy store was demolished. For months crews worked to clear out the interior of the building.
Finally it was time to pull down the west wall, also known as the Main Street entrance of the building.
People gathered to watch the demolition Sunday. Traffic was diverted from Main onto Water Street as workers weakened the building's steel supports with torches and tools.
When the thick cloud of dust settled, it was gone. But so was the small building next door, which, according to City Manager Bob Herron, had also been set for demolition, but not quite so soon.
"I don't know if that creates any kind of problems for the contractor because I know they've been stripping steel and wood out of the buildings so all they have left are bricks," he says.
Everyone had poignant memories of GC Murphy's, where so many people had sat at the long marble counter, or studied the turtles in the pet department.
"My biggest memory is going on a Saturday morning with my girlfriends, says Susan Hogan of Wheeling. "We'd ride the bus in, and buy 45 rpm records. All the top 40 hits would be there. Then later we got into high school and we'd buy makeup and always the school supplies. And the counter. The counter was fun."
"I remember having lunch at the lunch counter," says Frank Rodriguez of Wheeling. "and at Christmas time going downstairs with all the toys and the fish tanks. I always loved the fish tanks."
Murphy's was massive, running the depth of a whole block, with entrances on Main and Market streets.
The Market Street side still stands, and won't be torn down until this debris has been sorted and hauled away, which could take two weeks or more.