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Owner Vows To Rebuild After Historic Central Camera Goes Up In Flames

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Central Camera, a Chicago institution with an iconic neon sign and a photographer's every need since 1899, went up in flames Saturday night as unrest erupted in downtown Chicago in the wake of the George Floyd death in Minneapolis.

The store at 332 S. Wabash Ave. has been in business since 1899. CBS 2's Charlie De Mar said it was looted and set ablaze, and appeared to be a total loss.

Fire trucks near the scene were also looted.

De Mar talked with Don Flesch, the third-generation owner of the store, who was philosophical about the loss.

"It's what's going on, it's reality so you deal with it," he said. "It's that simple."

Flesch said he was most angry about the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis that touched off the unrest there, in Chicago, and elsewhere around the country.

He said he rescued the first camera his grandfather ever sold – back when the store was located around the corner at 31 E. Adams St. The camera was returned to the store in a box 30 years after the sale and has been on display ever since.

Flesch also said this was by no means the end of Central Camera.

"I'm going to rebuild and make it just as good or better, so I'm not depressed at all," he said.

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