SOUTH LYON (WWJ) – A key piece of South Lyon history has gone up in smoke.

The nearly 150-year-old South Lyon Hotel on Lafayette Street was badly damaged in a fire early Thursday morning.

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Manager Matt LaFavre said the fire took off just before 2:30 a.m. as employees were cleaning up to go home.

“We heard a sound but didn’t really think anything of it. An old building here creeks and makes sounds throughout the night,” LaFavre told WWJ’s Mike Campbell. “And maybe 30 seconds later the [smoke] alarms went off in the office.”

Corey Bala, one of the hotel’s co-owners, said all employees were able to get out of the building unharmed. The hotel had closed for the night, so no customers were present.

By the time firefighters had extinguished the fire, the hotel’s roof had completely caved in. Chris Baker, another co-owner, said the second floor is a total loss, but they might be able to salvage the first floor.

Jackie Synco, who works at the hotel, was beside herself at the scene. She said the hotel was like the Cheers of South Lyon.

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“It’s devastating,” she said. “I’ve worked here since I was in high school. I met my best friends here, my boyfriend here, it’s heartbreaking.”

Tim Hershell, 67, shared a similar sentiment. He’s been going to the hotel since he was 18.

“If you weren’t from around here, yeah, you got stared at a lot when you came in,” he said with a laugh. “It was the local hangout, you know, you’d drive by and see whose car was there and you stop in to see them. It’s a good place. I’m sad. I’m going to miss the place.”

Bala said the fire has created a roadblock in their plans for the hotel’s future, but they are hoping to rebuild to business.

“The building, we believe, was built in 1867 or right around there,” he said. “We were looking forward to a 150-year birthday next year, which will obviously be different now.”

(Credit: Bill Szumanski/WWJ Newsradio 950)

(Credit: Bill Szumanski/WWJ Newsradio 950)

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A cause of the fire remains under investigation.