Chunks of Kent’s industrial history tumbled to the ground throughout the day Tuesday as the demolition of the former C.L. Gougler and Machine Co. buildings on Lake Street officially got under way.
The structures are owned by Furukawa Rock Drill USA, which no longer uses the long-vacant headquarters or 65,000-square-foot factory buildings. Both were built around 1920.
The Gougler “front office” building, closest to Lake Street, was the first to face the proverbial wrecking ball Tuesday. The demolition moved slowly, catching the attention of many a passing motorist. Each bite of the excavator revealed more and more of the stately building’s elaborate woodwork and paneling.
Furukawa President Jeff Crane has donated re-usable items such as light fixtures, a fireplace surround, oak molding and trim to Ron Burbick for
The also received several items, including one of two large decorative light poles that flanked the office’s front entrance. It will be brought back to life in the front yard of the society's Clapp-Woodward Museum on East Main Street.
Coordinating the Furukawa demolition effort is Bob Holloway, a 39-year Gougler/Furukawa employee whose father, Roman Holloway, retired from the company in the mid-1970s after 25 years of service.
Holloway will be incorporating pieces of oak raised paneling, door casings and panes of etched glass removed from the office building into his own Brimfield home. Others have removed similar items for use in their homes.
The demolition crew will attempt to save as much of the exterior front door surround as possible, including the name “C.L. Gougler and Machine Co.” Holloway said if the sign can be saved, it will be displayed at Gougler Park, a 10.5-acre parcel on Lynn Road in Brimfield that’s owned by Gougler employees.
The debris from demolition effort will be used, first, to fill the basement area of each structure. Remaining debris will be used to fill in and level the lower-lying sections of Furukawa’s Lake Street property.
Crane, a third-generation Gougler employee, said he plans to invite former workers at the Gougler plant to watch on the day the factory's massive smokestack is torn down. "The retirees want to watch this," he said.
The factory and its landmark smokestack will be torn down after the demolition crew finishes taking down the front office building.