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March 20, 2013

Excavator topples, halting demolition at Napoleon’s

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An 18-ton track excavator toppled over early Wednesday afternoon as demolition started on part of the former Napoleon’s Restaurant in Warrenton.

H&C Investors LLC of Manassas Park owns the property and has a town permit to demolish modern additions to the historic structure at 67 Waterloo St.

The Modern Excavating Inc. operator — uninjured in the accident — apparently did not know about the basement beneath the building’s 1984 addition.

Horacio Magalhaes owns the Manassas Park excavating company and serves as managing partner of H&C, which purchased the property from The Fauquier Bank last year.

Warrenton’s Architectural Review Board in January approved a conceptual plan for a new, freestanding restaurant building behind the former home of Eppa Hunton II, a congressman, lawyer and Civil War general who lived in the 1830s home.

Technically, the ARB has no jurisdiction over demolition of non-historic structures. But, the board’s 4-0 vote on Jan. 24 gets H&C on the record in agreement with conditions that require it to save and protect from the elements anything built in the 1800s.

Extensive demolition started Wednesday morning.

Just after noon, the Deere 160D LC track excavator toppled on its left side, falling into the basement.

Town Manager Ken McLawhon said Warrenton has no jurisdiction over the accident.

The accident scene quickly drew dozens of onlookers. Motorists stopped frequently to take photos with their phones and iPads.

A Modern Excavating crew returned around mid-afternoon and attempted to upright the machine with a big rollback truck and a track loader. That effort failed.

Mr. Magalhaes arrived just before 5 p.m.

He had another excavator on the way and planned to clear the site before again attempting to remove the stranded machine on Thursday, Mr. Magalhaes said.

“It could have been worse; it’s only money,” he said, surveying the scene. “Nobody died.”
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