An engineer's report commissioned by the new property owner, Robert Gagnon of Colchester Construction, determined that Nat Semel's distillery chimney was unsafe. Repairs would have cost over $75,000 - and leaving the chimney as is would have been a red flag to Mr. Gagnon's insurer. With no likelihood that preservation of the historic structure could be funded by the town or the local historical society, there was no option but to demolish the chimney. Having photographed the chimney inside and out for the past 11 years, I'm sad to see it go - but understand the economic realities.
I'm also encouraged by the fine work Bob Gagnon has done to restore the former office building for use by his business. The building was dangerous with much of the roof caved in and gaping holes in the walls. It and the surrounding area were eyesores due to grafitti and trash. All that is in the past. While interior restoration remains to be done, a new roof and seamless brick repair have rendered the structure sound. Brush removal, grading and chain link fence installation have transformed the property into productive space. If I hadn't seen the change myself, I wouldn't have believed it possible.