Charleston has a long history as a major chemical manufacturing and research center with more than 80 chemical facilities in the area. Like everything though, we are seeing many companies move their facilities to other states and countries.
As part of that trend, in 2001, Union Carbide, which owned Building 82 and used it for administrative space, merged with Dow Chemical which quickly gutted the workforce and facilities in Charleston.
In 2005, Dow decided to sell Building 82, but donated the building to the University of Charleston the next year when no buyer was found. UC was going to rennovate the building for dorm space but the cost was too great. Instead, they decided to demolish the building and sell the land (here’s an interesting read on special features of the building and how they brought it down).
So, that’s where the fun started for us. We had planned to drive into the area near the building and watch from as close as we could. We drove in a back way that parallels the interstate and found a tremendous crowd already. We decided that we wouldn’t likely find a better spot so we watched from 1000 feet or so away. So we waited and watched and finally heard the initial blasts that weakened the structure. A few seconds later, several incredible blasts went off and the building came down in a flash and a cloud of smoke.
We all cheered and danced a bit along the road with total strangers. It was pretty weird but it reminded me of what this whole thing was about for me…it was about blowing junk up. As a kid, I had pretty easy access to gasoline, black powder, fireworks, and firearms. I shot, burned, or otherwise blew up anything that I could. I shot tvs and watermelons. I made blackpowder zip guns and napalm-like jelly and did all sorts of stuff that I shouldn’t have survived. (For instance, once I made a homemade rocket out of junk I found around the house. I packed the head of it with a lot of fireworks and pseudo-napalm. It was super top-heavy so when I launched it, it tipped over and headed straight for me. It blew up just shy of me thankfully!)
Anyhow, seeing that building blow up was just like being a kid again…only better…nothing came flying at me this time…and I didn’t have to answer to my dad for burning his car up and no one is going to jail this time…
Maybe I am growing up…