By Kaylee Lindenmuth | firstname.lastname@example.org
SHENANDOAH - For 55 years, it served the region as a distribution center of sorts for a national meat company, before becoming a warehouse for local recycler Sorin's. In the 1990s, it was supposed to be taken down and become a Uni-Mart, but, for decades, it's been abandoned and dilapidated, and this morning, demolition began.
The former Swift & Company plant at the corner of East Centre and North Bower, a three story brick warehouse stretching the length of the unit block of Bower, towered over the east end neighborhood since the late 1800s or early 1900s.
In December of 2017, the building suffered a partial collapse -- the roof caved in and a west facing wall began leaning towards the interior. According to published reports, plans were made at that time to demolish the building and salvage the materials, with a contractor from Oklahoma conducting the work.
That, apparently, never happened, and the building continued to sit in a damaged condition, 20 yards from the Shenandoah location for Child Development, Inc.
This morning, though, demolition began on the building, owned by Radk Properties, LLC, of Shenandoah, with a different, local contractor handling the work.
AMC Enterprises, Ashland, brought heavy equipment to the site last week and began work today. As of publication time Monday evening, half the building has been demolished. The unit block of North Bower Street is closed during the work.
There's been no word regarding future plans for the site.
History of the building
The building was built in the early 1900s as a branch of Chicago-based Swift and Company, which produced a wide variety of meat products. Situated along the Lehigh Valley Railroad, across the tracks from the railroad station, the facility regularly received rail shipments.
Advertisements in the Shenandoah Evening Herald in the 1930s highlighted their products as being "prepared in Shenandoah," including ham, bologna, luncheon loaf, and frankfurts.
Swift also had branch offices in Mahanoy City and Hazleton, both of which were absorbed into the Shenandoah branch in the 1940s. Another in Pottsville was also maintained.
In 1957, the Shenandoah plant closed, with company officials citing "economic" reasons.
"The present building no longer is able to serve its purposes efficiently and the cost of renovation is prohibitive," L.J. Paskey, plant manager, told the Pottsville Republican at the time. Of the 30 employees, 75% of them were maintained, transferred either to Pottsville, Reading, or Philadelphia.
By 1961, the building became a Sorin's warehouse, and later owned by Milton Sorin-owned United Wiping Cloth Co.
In 1997, United Wiping Cloth sold the facility to the Uni-Mart chain of convenience stores. The Pottsville Republican reported at the time the company purchased it and the adjoining former railroad station lot to build a 24-hour location.
"I think this is tremendous news for Shenandoah," Milton Sorin told the newspaper at the time.
By 2006, though, that hadn't happened, and Uni-Mart attempted to sell the building for years before offering to donate it to Shenandoah borough or another non-profit or charitable organization. The borough, though, didn't accept the donation
Later that year, Donna and Robert Kulpowicz purchased the building and adjoining lot, using the lot to rebuild their C&R Emporium. Donna told the Republican & Herald at the time "there is a possibility we might take the building down." In 2011, ownership changed to Radk Properties, LLC, according to the county parcel locator, though the company is owned by the Kulpowiczs.
Since then, the building continued to sit vacant, and, as of Friday, trees were growing out of the roofline.
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