Demolition continues for historic tobacco warehouse

MULLINS, SC (WMBF) – The site of a treasured landmark has turned into a construction site, as the demolition of the Old Brick Warehouse continues in downtown Mullins.

The process of demolishing one of the oldest standing tobacco warehouses, in the country, began last week. As the mayor explained, steps were taken to address concerns about lead-based paint and asbestos.

Those public safety issues are ultimately why the historical building met its demise.

"The front was held together by steel rods. We worried it was a matter of time before someone went in there and got killed," said Mayor Bo McMillan.

The mayor explained the City of Mullins hired three different engineering firms to assess the structure and to find a way to save the warehouse.

"It could not be saved. It was too far gone," said Mayor McMillan.

The Mayor took time today to reminisce about the old warehouse. It was the first job he had, and he recalled the tobacco festivals where thousands of people came to town, filling the streets with horse and wagons.

"We still have a rich history, but it is a sad time for the City of Mullins," he said.

Since the 1800s, the City of Mullins grew from the foundation of harvesting and selling of tobacco. Now, the old tobacco warehouse is torn down to just its foundation.

"Nothing is forever but the old memories, so many of us have. I cherish this town, and I cherish the memories I have of this town," said Mayor McMillan.

While not everyone shares the same memories, they do share the same sentiment over the warehouse being torn down.

"It is important to know where you come from in order to move forward," said Tanner Sarvis, a young college student that grew up in Mullins.

Sarvis was one of the youngest neighbors to sort through the construction site and stack old bricks to bring home. It was a way for him to honor the origins of his city, and a nod to his heritage.

"Being the youngest, I was the only one in my family not to work here, to work in the tobacco fields. I've never been inside this warehouse," he said.

The city is still exploring options into what to do with the plot of land where the warehouse once stood.

"Out of the ashes, rose The Phoenix. And I think great things can happen here," said Mayor McMillan.

The cleanup will continue throughout this week.

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