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One brick at a time: Brookford mill comes down but the materials live on | JW Demolition
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One brick at a time: Brookford mill comes down but the materials live on

March 22, 2015

BROOKFORD, N.C. – Another Catawba County landmark is coming down. This time it’s Brookford’s 115-year-old Shuford Mills building at 2235 S. Center St.

Its demolition follows the removal of Shuford Mills buildings in Granite Falls and Hickory’s Highland Avenue.

The Brookford mill went up in 1900 to make yarn, cordage and other textiles. By 1955, Shuford had the largest cordage mill in the world, according to the Granite Falls History Museum. These days the company’s better known for the spinoff created that year: Shurtape.

As for the yarn mills, they slowed down as the tape plants sped up. Most have been shuttered for decades. The owners have opted for change.

Just like the Highland Avenue demolition, the Brookford job is a meticulous operation because hundred-year-old timbers are in high demand. The brick and copper wiring are worth money, too. In fact, the crew at JW Demolition is going to save and sell just about everything they can pry out of the building as they take it down one brick at a time.

The mill buildings are empty inside. It’s longer than a football field from one end to the other. The roof is held up by parallel rows of circular columns. The only things on the floor were carts loaded down with fluorescent lamp tubes headed for recycling and a knee-high pile of electrical insulation peeled from copper wiring about as big around as a broom handle.

“We try to save everything from the building – the bricks, the metal, the timbers,” JW Demolition foreman Wilver Flores said. “There’s a big demand for reclaimed antique materials.”

He says they’re going to be able to save 70 to 80 percent of the brick. Much of the remaining 20 to 30 percent is newer “core brick” that has virtually no value on the market.

It’s probably going to take a crew of a dozen or so guys about six months to tear down 115-year-old mill.

It’s familiar territory for JW Demolition. The company’s torn down around 20 derelict mill buildings in North and South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia during the last decade. The materials they reclaim will be sold across the U.S. and around the world. They’ll make flooring out of the kind of heart pine you’ll never find at your local lumber yard. Companies like Elmwood Reclaimed Timber sell the reclaimed pine flooring for up to $13 per square foot.

“The wood is 500 to 700 years old,” Flores said. “And this building is about 800,000 to 1 million square feet.”

The mill sits on 10.8 acres, and there’s plenty of material to be reclaimed. A lot of flooring and steel. Flores estimates he’ll be reclaiming and selling about 1,400 big timbers and about a million bricks from this project.

“The building comes down, but its life lives on in other buildings other houses that they build from these things,” he said.


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