January 2, 2017 06:53PM
By Brooke Constance White
Sun staff writer
STONINGTON — The deconstruction of the Campbell Grain building has slowed a bit in the past few weeks as the salvage company leading the project is working to recover as much as possible from the 99-year-old building.
Henry Castaldi of Westwood Construction and Salvage, of Plainfield, said that some of the high-quality lumber such as southern yellow pine, oak, hickory and chestnut will likely be purchased and reused locally.
“This lumber is very unique and we’re working to recover whatever we can,” Castaldi said. “We’ll probably never seem timbers like this in our lifetime. We have loads that are scheduled to go out to our brokers, who then sell it. Some locals have stopped by and made purchases as well.”
Castaldi said a local cemetery plans to buy some chestnut to replace portions of its hearse barn. Although some of it will be sold locally, some of the lumber will most likely be sold overseas to contractors in Spain, Portugal, Italy and France, he said.
“Reclaiming wood like this has a big ‘green’ effect because it’s being recycled,” he said. “There are beams here that are 24-feet long and could be more than 400 years old.”
Castaldi said he and his team work hard to salvage everything possible in a historic property like the Campbell Grain building. So far, he’s also salvaged an old pulley system and the steel plates that the timber beams sat on.
Property owner Frank DeCiantis said that Castaldi has the salvage rights to anything found in the building during the deconstruction.
“I have no control over what’s done with materials found,” he said. “I had hoped that the work would be done by the first of the year, but obviously that won’t be happening. Between the meticulous work of recovering whatever can be reclaimed and both the town and state coming up with different things that need to be done that weren’t on the original list of to-do items, the deconstruction has been interrupted and delayed.”
So far, about half of the warehouse portion of the building is down, with the rest due to come down within the next six to eight weeks.
The 45,000-square-foot building was originally built for the Campbell Grain Company and housed a grist mill and grain elevator. Since the mid 1960s, the building has been used for a printing business, a paper and office equipment company and most recently as a studio space for startup companies.
The property was badly damaged in the 2010 flood and has been vacant ever since.
At the moment, Castaldi has machinery working on the building along with a half-dozen workers moving lumber around, pulling nails and segregating different types and sizes of lumber.
“He could knock the building down this week but doing it piece by piece takes a lot longer,” DeCiantis said. “Some of the wood is absolutely irreplaceable so I think it’s important that we do the project this way. I want to see this timber reused.”
Although he recently put up a sign saying there is acreage available, DeCiantis said he’s still unsure what he wants to do with the property. At the moment, DeCiantis, who has owned the property for about 35 years, is expecting to sell the parcel of land but said he will be talking with Stonington First Selectman Rob Simmons and Director of Planning Jason Vincent to see what they think is the best use of the property.
“I don’t have any offers but I do think I’ll sell it,” he said. “I have four kids that I want to include in it and I don’t have any idea if they want to be part of it for develop in a partnership type of thing so I don’t really know what will happen.”