In the Feb. 24 article concerning the St. Francis Xavier School demolition, Michael Moore enthusiastically describes the building’s destruction. The operator “wielding the hoe’s 45,000 pounds of hydraulic force ... sliced through the bricks and boards of the old school.” Yee haw! “Everything that can be saved here is going to be saved,” reassures David Maurer of Maurer Construction.
As the contractor who was in charge of the limited salvage inside the Xavier School, I can tell you exactly how much material was saved and it was a far cry from “everything.” Granted, due to the insistence of some church officials and my company’s persistence, we were able to reclaim some flooring, doors and lumber. But it was only a fraction of all the recoverable material in the building. Tens of thousands of board feet of rare of old growth timbers should have been saved.
And, although some of the brick will be reused, much of it got mixed in with other materials and will end up at the landfill. Our company works hard to keep building materials out of the landfill, and it is disturbing to see a building so unnecessarily destroyed.
The waste from the Xavier School could have been worse. But Missoula can do much better. We have multiple professional companies that deconstruct buildings, recycle scrap such as metal and wood, and sell reclaimed materials.
Building deconstruction puts more people to work, conserves energy, reduces pressures on landfills and forests, honors Montana’s history, and saves antique old-growth wood. We are fortunate in Missoula to have all of the necessary resources at our fingertips to be leaders in building dismantling. I challenge all of us, from architects to contractors, and homeowners to businesspeople, to put these resources to use and not waste our historic material.
Gary Delp, owner of Heritage Timber, Missoula