ST. CLOUD -- A garbage truck fell through the ceiling of a 100-year-old vault in downtown St. Cloud Tuesday morning. It happened in the alley of the 100 block of 5th Avenue South.

Inventure Properties President Doug Boser says the vaults have been underneath the pavement for a long time and now the ceilings are failing from moisture coming through them.  Inventure Properties owns the buildings in the 100 block of 5th Avenue South.  The back of their buildings are adjacent to the alley.

Boser says they are now working to demolish them. For now, the alley has been blocked off, there is a big steel plate laid over the hole to prevent anyone from falling into the hole, and the rest of the area is secure for foot traffic.

Starting Wednesday they will begin jackhammering of the collapsing rooms, then they'll fill the hole with gravel.

Boser says no one was hurt in today's incident.

City Engineer Steve Foss says he knows of at least 20 of these "vaults" that have been filled in over the years.  He says they filled in at least six or seven along 5th Avenue alone last year, during the street reconstruction project.  Foss says he doesn't believe there are many left in the downtown, except for maybe some along 7th Avenue, which has not had a lot of street work done lately.

Foss says it is unusual to find a vault in an alley, he says they are usually in the font of the buildings underneath the sidewalks.  Many years ago the vaults were used as a delivery system for the coal trucks to unload their coal into the basements of the old buildings.

Boser says they are not positive but this room, which is located below the old Davidson Opera House, could have been used as the old green room where actors and actresses would change and prep for their performances.

Vault collapse, photo courtesy of Inventure Properties
Vault Collapse, photo courtesy of Inventure Properties