The sudden and dramatic loss of a three-story piece of New Orleans history took many people, including city inspectors, by surprise this week.

But whatever factors led to the collapse of 808-810 Royal St. could be lurking inside other venerable French Quarter buildings, city officials and preservationists warned.

“There are probably several other buildings in the Quarter and beyond where the structural problems are not apparent from the street, and we should be very concerned about that,” said Meg Lousteau, executive director of the Vieux Carre Residents, Property Owners and Associates.

On the surface, the 200-year-old Royal Street building — referred to in historical documents as one of the city’s early “skyscrapers” — appeared sturdy. Code violations cited in 2011 has been corrected, including a fresh coat of yellow paint, city officials said.

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