Firefighters were drafted in to help stabilise and remove loose stonework in a town centre high street.
The crew from Rainton Bridge Fire Station were called to Newbottle Street in Houghton after fears the pillar from Wheeler House could fall down.
The officers used an aerial ladder platform to secure the piece and them remove it safely.
They had been called in after the building's owner became concerned.
Traffic was diverted, with bus services run by Go North East hit by delays.
The road was closed off for around an hour while the area was made safe.