LIMA — When county workers began excavating a Main Street parking lot to determine the source of a sinkhole issue, they dug up a piece of Lima history.
Construction workers found sections of an old basement, including bricks, foundation walls and two fireplaces. The remnants are presumably from J.F. Renz and Sons Bakery. The behemoth business once stood from 320 to 326 N. Main St., across the street from the Allen County Courthouse and Sheriff’s Office. After the structure burned in April 1986, most of the area was razed, eventually becoming a county-owned parking lot.
The Allen County Commissioners allotted an undetermined amount of money from the Capital Improvement Fund to remedy the sinkhole problem.
“For the safety of the people of the parking lot, we needed to address it. Safety is an issue,” said Allen County Commissioner Cory Noonan. “When you see a lot like that start to sink, there’s a reason why it’s doing that.”
Because the project is still in an exploratory phase, the cost of improving the parking lot is unknown.
On Wednesday, cement barriers and yellow caution tape blocked off the parking lot, nestled between Porter Pub and Pomeroy Financial Planning building. A construction vehicle dug at least 4 feet into the ground, recovering debris including metals and bricks.
The old J.F. Renz and Sons Bakery specialized in items like malt-milk bread, hot cross buns and fruit cakes during the holidays, according to a 2009 story in The Lima News. The business was considered a cornerstone in Lima from the early to mid-20th century. The company also boasted making hamburger buns for Kewpee restaurants.
Dave Houchin of the Allen County Engineer’s Office could not be reached for comment Wednesday.