Bricks are falling from a local historic landmark and it looks like it could be dismantled.
Early last week, a section of bricks on the upper portion of a smokestack at the Windham Mills complex fell.
The smokestack, which dates to the late 1800s, was for the coal-fired furnace at the mills that was used for heating purposes.
Windham Mayor Ernie Eldridge said he noticed the damage early last week and intended to contact Thomas Briggs of TWB Properties LLC, who owns the mills, to see what can be done.
“I’m fearful that he’ll want to tear it down, which would be a shame,” Eldridge said.
Eldridge said he believes the chimney or smokestack likely was built with lime-mortar – a mix of lime, sand and water – which was essentially a precursor to cement.
“The old lime mortar is just not strong,” he said.
Windham Code Enforcement Director Matthew Vertefeuille said the town has ordered that the smokestack be immediately made safe, or be torn down.
He noted many people in town have connections to the mills, including his grandmother, who worked there as a 13year-old. “It’s in all of our blood,” he said.
But the smokestack is a safety hazard, he said. “Sure it’s sad,” he said, “But the hole is pretty bad.”
He said no one has been hurt by the falling bricks, but people should be cautious in that area. Some of the bricks fell outward, while some fell inside the stack, he said.
The surrounding buildings near it are not occupied and the area near the smokestack is not yet being used for parking, Vertefeuille said.
Margaret Gledhill, property manager for TWB Properties LLC, said she’s sorry to see the structure is failing. The damaged section is the “prettiest band” on the smokestack, she said. “But, unfortunately, it’s not safe,” she said.
She said the firm is in the process of getting estimates for dismantling the smokestack, but also exploring options for salvaging it.
The mills are owned by Thomas Briggs of TWB Properties LLC, which is a real estate development and property investment company, according to the group’s web site. Briggs purchased the mill complex for $5.5 million in 2008 in a bankruptcy court sale.
Posted March 5, 2011, as edited by HTNP.com Editor Brenda Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org