BEVERLY - The complexion of downtown Beverly will change in the next couple of weeks with the demolition of a familiar facility.
The approximately 100-year-old building that housed Skinner Firestone from 1961 to 2007 is being torn down, a move Skinner President Vernon Skinner said is unfortunate but necessary.
"The foundation is pretty bad. The roof is pretty bad," Skinner said. "It's really not feasible to fix it."
EVAN BEVINS The Marietta Times
Skinner Firestone President Vernon Skinner talks about why the approximately 100-year-old building that housed the family business for more than 45 years on Fifth Street in Beverly will have to be torn down soon.
The two-story building with the brick facade and attached garage is more than a workplace for Skinner, who recalls "running around here when I was a little tyke." He worked part-time there in high school before coming aboard full-time in 1975.
"I hate to see the thing come down, but (we) just don't have a whole lot of choice," Skinner said.
Skinner's father, Roy, purchased the building and opened the business in 1961. Before that, it served as a Ford Model T showroom at some point, said Vernon Skinner. Slats in the roof were made from crates in which those older vehicles were shipped.
About the business
Skinner Firestone opened in the 200 block of Fifth Street in Beverly in 1961 when Roy Skinner purchased the building that had once been a showroom for Ford Model Ts.
The business remained in that location until 2007 when it moved to a newly built facility at 232 Fifth St. The previous location was used for storage.
In a couple of weeks, the more than 100-year-old building will be torn down, due to problems with the roof and foundation.
Skinner President Vernon Skinner said there are plans to build a new storage facility at the site.
Three generations of the Skinner family have worked at the business with Vernon's children, Brandon Skinner and Tara Wetz employed there now.
Skinner noted that the concrete on the floor is not particularly thick because the Model Ts didn't weigh a lot compared to modern vehicles.
Simply bouncing up and down on one's feet results in vibrations that make the foundation issues evident.
"If you drop a tire on it, you can really feel it," Skinner said.
At one point, the business re-tread tires in the garage. Skinner said some people might be surprised there was enough space for that but he noted that there weren't as many sizes and varieties of tires in years past.
The business, which currently employs 13 people, moved into a new facility next door at 232 Fifth St. in December 2007. The former site has been used for storage until recently. Skinner said he doesn't want to take a risk on the building deteriorating further and repairing it doesn't make financial sense.
Roy Skinner isn't looking forward to the demolition of his business' longtime location either, but said "that's the way it goes."
"I guess you have to go with improvements, go with the future," said Roy Skinner, 82.
Waterford resident Francis Sampson, a member of the Lower Muskingum Historical Society, said he hates to see old buildings torn down, but he understands the reasoning.
"It's a nice brick structure, but the outside doesn't always tell you what's underneath," he said. "You have to do what's the most economical."
Bob Brooker, owner of Muskingum True Value Hardware, another Fifth Street business, said he's happy to see it's only the building and not the business that's disappearing.
"Glad to see him progress with a new building instead of leaving town," Brooker said.
Vernon Skinner said he doesn't plan to leave the site vacant.
"Hopefully we'll build back one for storage. And it'll give us a lot more room for parking," he said.
"After it's down a month or so, everybody will kind of get over it and it'll have a different look in about a year or so."