Buggy Whip building collapse leads to road closure

TIPP CITY — State Route 571 (East Main Street) in Tipp City is closed following the partial collapse of a historic structure on Sunday.

Tipp City Chief of Emergency Services Cameron Haller said a resident was riding his bicycle past the former Tipp Buggy Whip Co. building at 216 E. Main St. on Sunday when he heard “a noise” coming from the building. Tipp City fire and EMS were called to check.

“Our guys responded,” Haller said. “They found that the first floor had collapsed into the basement.”

Firefighters reported the collapse had bowed both the east and north exterior walls of the structure. Haller said the east wall is bowed inward and the north wall, which faces the street, is bowed outward. The building is vacant and was not occupied at the time of the collapse. Haller said Monday the building is showing signs of imminent collapse.

A number of utility and inspection agencies were contacted to access the damage to the building, including Vectren, Tipp City Electric, and county building inspection officials.

Haller said the building was immediately condemned by Miami County Public Health.

One of the many concerns to officials is the large number of power lines that run past the building and over the street, just feet away.

Due to the risk of the building collapsing further, East Main Street (State Route 571) is closed until further notice from First Street to State Route 202. The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is involved and making the official detour route.

The building is one of the many historic buildings in Tipp City.

From a story listed on the downtowntippcity.org website:

In 1889, A.L. Harshberger and and Frank Davis erected this building and started the Tipp Whip Co. to manufacture buggy whips, which is used by a buggy driver to whip the horses pulling the buggy.

The factory was originally powered by water that flowed beneath the building along a mill race from the adjoining Miami-Erie Canal.

At one point, salesmen for the Tipp Whip Co. used an automobile to travel around and sell buggy whips, ironic, since automobiles replacing horse-drawn buggies would be the company’s ultimate downfall. The buggy whip has since become a symbol for anything that has been made hopelessly obsolete by a technological improvement.

The factory ceased operations at this location after the 1913 flood. In 1917, the building was sold to the Miami Conservancy District and the equipment was sold to the United States Whip Co. of Westfield, Mass.

In 1935, the Senseman family opened a blacksmith and antique shop in the building. The antique store, named The Buggy Whip Antiques, operated through approximately 2010 by members of the Senseman family.

Before the buggy whip factory was built, the property had been the site of a linseed oil and grist mill that was destroyed by fire in 1883.