History-Making Accident - 33 Main St
Seaforth’s historic Main Street has undergone many changes over the years, but none have been as sudden or as shocking as the one that occurred on Oct 13, 2023, when a tractor pulling two trailers crashed into the building at 33 Main St with enough force to become imbedded in the structure. No one was hurt in the incident, but the building was deeply damaged, and the delicate process of removing the tractor shut down a portion of the street for weeks.
33 Main St is located at the corner of Main and John. Constructed in 1863, it was the first brick building on the street, and was built using yellow brick - a popular choice in Huron County at the time. The doorways are in the Canada West Classical Revival Style, and the upper part of the building is decorated with an ornate brickwork pattern. It’s part of a striking stretch of buildings that make up Seaforth’s downtown core, many of which were built in a 10 year period between 1868 and 1878, after a huge fire devastated the town.
In the years before the fire, Seaforth had experienced a rapid expansion in response to its booming economy. Wooden buildings were constructed in haste, rendering the existing firefighting equipment and water supply insufficient. A fire that broke out in a business operated by a woman named Mrs. Griffith, eventually destroyed 22 businesses, nine residences, and resulted in over $100,000 in damage, a significant amount for the time. The structure at 33 Main St survived the fire unscathed.
For its first six years, the building was used as the local post office, and has since gone on to house a vast array of local businesses. Doctors and dentists have had their offices there, and from 1908 to 1938 Charles Aberhart and his sons ran a pharmacy there. Many stores have set up shop there over the years, providing the people of Seaforth with dry goods, jewellry, groceries, shoes, and more. At the time of the accident, 33 Main contained a RE/MAX realty office.
The impact of the tractor caused a deep crack in the side of the building, running all the way up to its top. The decorative brickwork was marred by the visible fissure, and the future of 33 Main St became uncertain. Rushing to extract the tractor could have caused further damage, and repairing the heritage building would prove tricky. The Municipality of East Huron hoped to save the building, and chose to take its time evaluating their options. In November, they declared that the tractor would likely be removed in early December, and that 33 Main St would be saved, much to the relief of residents. Currently, the painstaking repairs are still underway, so the building’s final appearance is not yet known. Whenever you’re next walking down Seaforth’s Main St, look up at the corner of the building at Main and John, and see what remains of the history-making crack heard by all of Huron County.