LORAIN — A nuisance that has stood empty and dilapidated for decades started coming down Saturday when crews began demolishing what remains of the old National Stoveworks Co. buildings on Long Avenue.
Federal funds were poured into the $1.2 million project that Lorain Service Director Dan Given said Mayor Chase Ritenauer “wanted to make sure he took care of for future generations.”
Previous administrations had not addressed the matter, he said, and the buildings on the site have been vacant for “most of my life,” Given said.
With hazardous materials cleanup out of the way, crews were filling trucks and garbage bins with the remaining rubble, he said.
Given said the skeleton of the building, the structural steel, should come down by the end of September.
After National Stoveworks closed, the buildings at West 13th Street and Long Avenue remained a dumping site and storage ground for many years, and they were a nuisance to neighbors and the city.
Phil Dore, Given’s chief of staff and former Lorain fire chief, said the property also was the site of “the biggest fire I ever saw in my life.”
That was in June 1986, when — as a training officer — he and eight trainees went to conduct a test burn that got out of hand.
“It went bad,” Dore said, when oil-soaked wooden floors and beams in one of the buildings caught fire and burned out of control. Multiple fire crews had to be called, some from other counties.
Dore said he later learned the smoke plume from the fire could be seen as far away as Great Northern Mall in North Olmsted. The building that burned was demolished, and the whole matter was tied up in the courts for some time, Dore recalled.
Stoveworks “is something that’s been a nuisance in our community for 30 years and it’s finally being abated,” he said.
It remains to be seen what will happen to the property, which has a “sizeable” tax lien on it, Given said.
“We’ll work with the county on that,” he said. “The main issue is the cleanup and removal of this archaic structure in order for any life to be on the property in the future.”