SKOWHEGAN — Tom McCarthy has picture frames and photo albums of buildings his company has taken down over the years in Skowhegan.

The demolition projects have made way for McDonald’s, KFC, Tim Horton’s, China Ting, Franklin Savings Bank, Damon’s and a parking lot for Hight Chevrolet and Charrier’s Restaurant.
It’s time for him to start a new album.

Crews from McCarthy Enterprises will begin demolishing three downtown buildings at the corner of Madison Avenue and Commercial Street on Saturday.

“It’s much like the approach of cutting down a great big tree — you fix the way you want it to fall and then you work it so it falls that way,” McCarthy, 68, said. “We’ll have two excavators in there. Undermine it, let it settle down, then go around and push it all into the middle.”

McCarthy said his crews will take out the entire corner where the vacant Skowhegan Electronics, Sweet Memories of Maine and an attached double storefront on Madison Avenue have stood since the late 1800s.

By the following Monday, if all goes according to plan, it will just be a big hole in the ground.

McCarthy said the attack will start in the existing parking lot at the rear of the buildings. Crews will begin by punching a hole in the middle, then slowly collapse all three structures into the center. Traffic will be reduced to one lane on both streets for much of the weekend. Truck tires will be cut in half and wrapped on nearby utility poles so any miscellaneous debris will be deflected away from the poles and the street, he said.

The three-story yellow building at the corner — Skowhegan’s notorious eyesore — will be attacked from the bottom, slowly settling the aging structure into itself, McCarthy said. He said Waste Management and BDS Inc., both of Norridgewock, will haul the wood, brick and other debris away.
He said he is getting paid $30,000 for the job, but the extra insurance alone is going to cost him $4,500 for two days.

McCarthy spent his early years with his family in northern Maine. They moved from Patten to Garland, Dexter and to Corinna, where he graduated high school. He was a steel worker for several years and served in the U.S. Army from 1965 to 1967 and then settled in Skowhegan.

“I’m just a person that’s worked for what he’s got,” said McCarthy, who has lived on Hilton Hill Road since 1974. “I still believe a handshake is a contract. I respect people and speak my mind.”

McCarthy started his first business selling chainsaws, lawn and garden equipment and outboard motors. He moved onto logging with horse teams, skidders, jitterbugs and pulp trucks, selling fire wood and pulp wood. In 1979 he opened — and closed — a restaurant in Skowhegan and founded Central Maine Wreath Co., which continues to make and sell 40,000 to 50,000 Christmas wreaths from the company’s North Avenue offices.

The company today does earth work, septic tank installation, driveways, landscaping and building demolition.

“I think we’ve done two-thirds of what’s been done in Skowhegan for the past 20, 25 years,” he said of the demolition work. “We took care of the fairgrounds when it burned; took care of the Ford garage when it burned; we got the Belmont Motel when it burned.”

His company has taken down apartment houses, the Debe bottling company on Madison Avenue, the old Chapman Tire Co. building, part of a church and countless sheds, garages, barns and smaller buildings. He built a bank in Gardiner and remodeled others in Winthrop, Augusta and Waterville, he said.

The company owns self-storage buildings in Solon, Yankee Realty in Skowhegan and a housing subdivision on Middle Road, also in Skowhegan.

McCarthy also manages the horse shows for the Skowhegan State Fair and is past president of the Chamber of Commerce. He also is a member of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars and was instrumental is getting the Skowhegan Veterans’ Park built.

He said he never went to college, never married, never had a drink and never smoked a cigarette.
His life, he said, is people.

“I help people,” he said. “I’ve spent my life helping people. I have one daughter and a whole bunch of adopted kids that I’ve raised without fathers — I call them my grandchildren, they carry the same value to me.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367
[email protected]ꆱ

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