29 January 2014

Historic T.S. Simms paint brush factory slated for demolition

CTV Atlantic

This week marks the beginning of the end for a century-old industrial institution in the Maritimes.

Demolition of the former T.S. Simms & Co. Limited paint brush factory in Saint John is scheduled for Wednesday. Crews spent Tuesday preparing for a process that will last well into the spring.

“People can expect to see it come down slowly and not see a whole lot of traffic problems. Over the whole ten weeks, there might be an hour or two when one lane has to be closed,” says Geoff Britt of J.D. Irving Limited.

T.S. Simms & Co. was once the largest brush factory in the world, employing hundreds of people in a formidable structure that was built to last for generations.

A Boston architectural and engineering firm was hired more than a century ago to design the unique manufacturing facility in west Saint John.

“It is poured concrete and steel reinforcing rods that allowed more space on the floor for production and more window light for employees,” says New Brunswick Museum curator Gary Hughes.

The building’s blueprints are now in the care of the museum, along with other artifacts from the iconic building.

T.S. Simms & Co. announced last year that the company was shutting down manufacturing in Saint John, after 140 years. The building has been owned by J.D. Irving Limited for more than a decade and is surplus to the company’s needs.

Irving says there are no immediate plans for the property.

“I think people driving home at night, seeing the sunshine through the windows, that’s a sight they’re gonna miss,” says Hughes.