When the tenants of 208 Williams Street moved into their newly renovated house this week, they never expected that despite the layers of new plaster and coats of fresh paint, their Collegetown residence was about to crumble beneath them.
But on Sunday night, during a party at the house, the porch, which had been left untouched during the summer renovations, collapsed in on itself, leaving party-goers in a pit of rubble.
Most walked away unscathed or with minor injuries, but flying beer cans and screeching students — many of whom escaped through windows, which became the only means of exit from the house — led to a scene of chaos in Collegetown.
While the tenants did not wish to publicaly express their concerns, the house was inspected two weeks ago — after the renovations were completed — and was approved by the building department, according to the staff at Pam Johnston Apartments, which owns the building. However, there was no maximum occupancy posted for the porch anywhere on the premises, nor any mention of it in the lease the tenants signed last semester, Pam Johnston said in an interview with The Sun.
Johnston said eyewitnesses reported to her that there were more than 50 people on the porch.
“The porch failed because of over-trafficking — it was not meant for 50 people to stand on it,” Johnston said. “I spoke to people from the building department who told me that this is very common.”
Johnston was orginially told 10 people were on the porch, but was led to believe this number was significantly higher after recieving reports from other residents on Williams Street, she said.
“We got a message on our answering machine saying there was about 10 people on the porch and no one was hurt but no one called our 24-hour emergency service and we didn’t know about the incident until the morning,” Johnston said. “We have now looked at the numbers, since it was an absolute mystery to us how 10 people could collapse a porch, and now know it was many more than 10.”
While representatives from Pam Johnston Apartments said that there has not been a conversation about the price of the repair, they said they assumed the landlord would be responsible for replacing the porch.
“I’m assuming we’ll take care of it,” said Jeff Baker, a representative from Pam Johnston Apartments. “We couldn’t document or prove whose fault it was.”