At the end of its usefulness, a former city warehouse, brick plant, and who knows what else went toe to toe with a bulldozer on Thursday — and lost.
"These stone walls are all that's holding up the roof," said Darin Wernig, public information officer for the city of Fulton. "Knock down a couple of walls, and the whole thing should go."
Before they fell, the walls of the long rectangular structure, at 1024 Westminster Ave., told a story. On the west side, they had been clad in aluminum sheeting, portraying a more modern and thus deceiving image. The other sides better told the accuracy of its age: layers of chunky sandstone, some red bricks shaped into a variety of patterns, and inside, blond bricks commonly seen around Fulton, too. There were chutes and wooden utility poles supporting the trusses — and some fancy arches here and there over doorways and windows.
Rehab and remodel just wasn't in the cards.
Back as far as the mid 1800s, people tried to make a go of brick factories in the Fulton area. Cy and Hy Cumberland established a brick yard in north Fulton at about 14th Street, west of what is now U.S. Business 54. In 1880, Ambrose Ismay took it over and made 4,000 bricks a day.
The Fulton Fire Brick Company was incorporated Feb. 9, 1892, with Luther V. Nickell as president. Documentation shows he spent days and weeks on the road, trying to find a market for Fulton-made bricks.
On Feb. 2, 1902, the plant was insolvent and acquired by Callaway County Savings Bank. On Aug. 8, 1918, American Arch Company took control of the Fulton Fire Brick Co. As the business changed hands, Nickell went with it.
Priest Field at Westminster College also was the site of a former brick plant. Eventually, if you wanted to buy a brick, you would find plenty on Westminster Avenue, home to Howard Pottery (said to be plant No. 1), The Howard Pottery Fire Clay Co., Dixon-Howard Fire Brick Co., Fulton Fire Brick and Mining Co., and Fulton Fire Brick Co.
On June 16, 1929, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, company Harbison-Walker bought the Fulton Fire Brick Co. and made 45,000 9-inch bricks per day.Harbison-Walker Refractories vacated the plant in 1947 for another. On Oct. 20, 1949, Harbison-Walker tore down much of the old plant.
The old brick plant served as a city warehouse for the last six decades, until the city built a modern complex nearby and on the other side of Westminster Avenue. It served as a fire brick manufacturing plants before that, and a round, domed brick kiln and chimney still remain.
In May 2017, the main warehouse building was badly damaged in a storm, leading City Council members to make a decision to tear down the structure.
The concrete underneath, however, will remain in place because of suspected carcinogen asbestos. Also remaining will be other still useful structures, including the beehive kiln and chimney.