PARIS – The loss of the NEPW Logistics warehouse on Pine Street was felt by local people, including hundreds who were once employed by the A.C. Lawrence tannery, which opened in 1955.

“It’s very sad,” said 84-year-old Ted Hards of Norway, who grew up in England where he trained as a tanner and eventually made his way to the United States to work for the A.C. Lawrence tannery.

Hards, who became general superintendent of the building, said the structure was solid construction of cement walls with “magnificent” trusses that were poured on the ground and stood upright.

The building was considered by trade papers of the day to have an “up to the minute streamlined plant layout.”

A.C. Lawrence Co. officials said the site was selected because it was a “strategic location” from the standpoint of marketing.

Bill Damon of Greenwood Road worked there for 25 years. At the time, the company operated tanneries in Kentucky, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Paris.

Groundbreaking by then-Gov. Edmund Muskie occurred on Nov. 4, 1955, and production started the next day. In those days the building wasn’t as sizable, Damon said. “We never could have freight cars go inside the building,” he said. Instead, freight cars went in a space between the boiler room in the back and the main plant to unload hides.

Damon, who is in his early 80s, said he started working in the building in the 1960s, tanning hides and piling tanned hides for shipment. The leather would be used for making items such as military combat boots and penny loafers.

In 1985, the tannery closed, leaving Damon and just one other employee there for a time. “To me it was a heck of a company to have,” he said.

A few years later the New England Public Warehouse purchased the building.

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