Downtown Hopkinsville takes the brunt of destructive winds in Friday storm

The storm destroyed the top of The Mixer on Sixth Street. The property was originally Young Hardware and dates to the late 1800s. (Hoptown Chronicle photos by Jennifer P. Brown)

A severe thunderstorm with destructive winds — and possibly a tornado — struck late Friday night in downtown Hopkinsville, where it leveled the third floor of The Mixer restaurant on Sixth Street and tore out a brick wall below the historic clock tower on Ninth Street. 

Numerous trees were blown down across the city, blocking streets, striking homes and tearing down power lines. Early Saturday, Hopkinsville Electric System estimated that 8,000 of its 13,000 customers were without power

Mayor James R. Knight Jr. talks with Hopkinsville Brewing Co. co-owner Kate Russell early Saturday on Fifth Street.

“This is really hard to take,” Mayor James R. Knight Jr. said early Saturday morning as he stood near The Mixer restaurant. “It means a lot to downtown … what they’ve put into this building and into downtown. I’m grateful no one was hurt.”

No serious injuries were reported in the city. Western Kentucky was under a tornado watch and a wind advisory Friday night. Gov. Andy Beshear had declared a state of emergency in advance of the storm.

“We’ve got trees out all over town laying across streets. Our public works has been on it all night,” Knight said. 

“Sixteenth Street got hit really hard,” he said. “A lot of the downtown businesses have glass out.”

Several streets were blocked because of fallen trees and debris from buildings. As the morning wore on, the grind of chain saws could be heard. Utility crews were out everywhere. An employee of Hopkinsville Electric said his crew was at the utility before the storm hit so they would be ready to go out as soon as damage reports started to came in. 

The storm hurled bricks, lumber, roofing material and insulation from The Mixer to Hopkinsville Brewing Co. on Fifth Street and to the senior apartment building on Fourth Street.

The storm hurled lumber, insulation and roofing material from The Mixer on Sixth Street to Hopkinsville Brewing Co. on Fifth Street.

Brewery co-owner Kate Russell lives near downtown and heard the storm from her home around 11 p.m.

“I heard it and then we lost power, and it stopped and I thought it was over,” she said. 

An hour later, Graham Dawson, who owns The Mixer with his wife, Heather Dawson, called Russell and said the restaurant’s third floor had collapsed and there was damage at the brewery. Glass was shattered in several of the brewery’s windows and doors. Signs from The Mixer were in the street next to the brewery.

Knight, who ate dinner around 7 p.m. Friday at The Mixer, said the restaurant was closed when the storm struck but employees and the Dawsons were still in the building. They were able to get out safely, said the mayor. He spoke later to the Dawsons and the building’s owner, Hal McCoy, and said he understood they want to repair the building.

McCoy developed the restaurant property from the former Young Hardware building, which dates to the late 1800s. The restaurant, which opened in December 2019 and weathered pandemic closures, is considered a key business in the downtown revival. 

At the brewery, Russell was waiting Saturday morning for help from friends at Henderson Brewing, who offered to send a truck to pick up some of the beer that she feared would spoil before power was restored. 

Other properties that sustained storm damages included:

  • Union Benevolent Society Cemetery on Vine Street, where a large tree was down and a few headstones appeared to be broken by the storm. 
  • Several houses on Main Street and South Virginia Street, where trees had fallen onto houses and utility lines. 
  • Cooper Still liquor store on Fourth Street had roof damage. 
  • The former Marathon convenience store and Family Dollar on Ninth Street between Walnut and Campbell streets, both of which were also hit in the Jan. 1, 2022, tornado, sustained damages again.
  • The Oddfellows Building at Ninth and Virginia streets had a third-story window blown out. 
  • A warehouse building at Second and Clay streets was leveled. 
  • The Phoenix building at Ninth and Main streets, which is condemned, had several windows blown out. The sidewalks were littered with glass.
  • Blue Streak Printers, on Ninth Street adjacent to the Phoenix, had a large window blown out.

This story will be updated.

This article is republished from Hoptown Chronicle.

A car is buried under tree limbs on Clay Street near 15th Street.

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Jennifer P. Brown, Hoptown Chronicle

Jennifer P. Brown is the publisher, editor and co-founder of Hoptown Chronicle. She has been writing about Hopkinsville for 35 years — first as a reporter and editor for the Kentucky New Era for three decades and more recently as an independent journalist. Brown co-chairs the national advisory board to the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky and is governing board president for the Kentucky Historical Society. She is a co-founder of the Kentucky Open Government Coalition. She serves on the Community Advisory Board of WKMS, the public radio station at Murray State University. Brown earned the Bachelor of Science in Journalism at Murray and the MFA in Creative Nonfiction at Goucher College, Baltimore.