Demolition of old Grist Mill buildings started last Wednesday morning in Littleton's River District. C & C Bunnell of Monroe was the contractor working on the complicated process to take the buildings down and away without impacting the Ammonoosuc River. (Photo by Darin Wipperman) (click for larger version)
September 14, 2016LITTLETON — A great deal of history came down in the river district last week. Two old structures on the Grist Mill site were demolished after structural problems were discovered last month.
The two buildings stood near Schilling Beer Company, a very popular destination on Mill St. A celebratory atmosphere took shape on Wednesday morning, as staff and leadership at the restaurant and beer hall watched the demolition work unfold.
C & C Bunnell, based in Monroe, was awarded a contract to complete the delicate work.
After attaching steel cables to two excavators, extended pulling by the big equipment helped break parts of the larger mill building. The machines then went to work tearing into the walls.
In order to protect the Ammonoosuc River, weeks of prep work were required. A cofferdam was created below the buildings, and protective matting, designed to keep even very small pieces of debris from remaining in the river, was put in place.
An emergency state permit allowed the cofferdam to be built and the demolition to proceed.
Nathan LaFlamme, a manager for C & C Bunnell, said he wanted to protect the river because his kids enjoy playing in water.
"I don't want to see someone getting hurt," LaFlamme said.
As he surveyed the scene of destruction on Wednesday morning, LaFlamme was happy to discuss how well the cofferdam and matting worked out.
"It did its job perfectly," he said.
The matting is preferable to placing excavators in the river, LaFlamme continued, because of the risks of machine damage.
The sounds of a falling building were heard on Thursday morning, as well. C & C Bunnell took down the smaller structure, followed by the humming of the two excavators that quickly began removal of the debris.
After both buildings were down, a major change to landscape was obvious. The Riverglen House stood highly visible from the new view along the north bank of the Ammonoosuc, and the removal of the dilapidated structures likely pleased many happy to see the eyesores disappear.
LaFlamme thanked property owner Ron Murro and town employees, including Fire Chief Joe Mercieri, for the help during the planning stages of the big operation. He said everyone involved wished to "err on the side of caution" while working to decrease the chance that the damaged buildings would come down on their own.
The leadership of Schilling Beer Company was very appreciative of the high quality work from C & C Bunnell. Contrary to original expectations, Schilling did not need to be closed on the day the work commenced. Rather, the restaurant opened at the scheduled time.
Schilling CEO Jeff Cozzens said C & C Bunnell did a great job working with the restaurant during the process. He also appreciated how LaFlamme and his team showed such a strong commitment to protecting the environment.
Schilling's Chief Brewing Officer John Lenzini also chimed in on the work. With a big smile, Lenzini said that watching the demolition process was both fascinating and "terrifying."
A dog watching the work was also impressed. The pooch howled several times Wednesday morning as the action unfolded.