The empty storefront and storage buildings that once housed the Frankfort Lumber & Manufacturing Company are being leveled about nine years after it closed.
The moment was bittersweet for Frank McGrath, whose father, Frank R. McGrath, and uncle bought out Capital Lumber & Manufacturing Company in 1919. The younger McGrath worked at the lumberyard his entire life, starting full time in 1947.
McGrath, the lumber company’s former president who closed the business in 2003, had rented the property at 111 Capital Ave. for short-term storage, such as to crews that repainted the bridge there in 2010.
“The buildings have just gotten in such a shape that it would’ve cost a whole lot more to put ‘em back in shape than I’d ever get out of it,” McGrath said by phone Thursday, calling demolition the cheaper option.
The former lumberyard, appraised at $225,000, includes a storefront on Battle Alley, three storage buildings and a shed, according to county property records. The entire lot will be leveled, graded and seeded for grass, McGrath said.
Crews with C.C. Moore Inc. are tearing down the former Frankfort Lumber & Manufacturing Co. buildings. Construction workers have found pay stubs dating back to the 1940s that show employees making about $10 per week, a letter from the mid-1920s, daily hand-written business sheets and other remnants of the lumber company’s history, according to Lambert Moore of C.C. Moore.
“It looks like they kept a lot of their old paperwork in the old warehouse,” Moore said.
“… If it’s an old building like that, you might find some stuff, but there was more than usual. It probably doesn’t have much worth to it other than historical.”
He said he might share some of the documents found onsite with the Capital City Museum “if it’s something they would be interested in.”
While there were plenty of records associated with the longtime business, vandals had stripped the unoccupied buildings of copper, plumbing materials, steel pipes and other valuables, McGrath said.
“Anything that they could get loose and thought they could sell, they did it,” he said.
McGrath was also penalized hundreds of dollars by the city, which cited the property as abandoned in April 2011, for building code violations at the site.
He plans to sell the property but hasn’t set a price.
“I’m going to have to wait now and see how much it’s going to cost me to get it in shape to sell,” McGrath said, referring to grading the land and seeding grass after demolition.
The land and some adjacent parcels are key parts of a riverfront development plan unveiled in late 2009. Planners envisioned a mixed-use development there with apartments, shops, a boat landing and green space after the existing property had been razed.
McGrath said the property has sentimental value, but the mounting penalties and tax bills have been burdensome.
“In latter years, it’s been just the biggest drag on me,” he said. “The pressure just kept getting bigger and bigger.”