CHILDERSBURG — Sixty-three-year-old Beaunit Rayon Factory is being demolished. What will replace the long-standing industry is yet unknown.
“Call back in a month and I can tell you something,” new property owner George Blakeney said.
Beaunit was opened by DuPont Company in 1950 to manufacture rayon, the world’s first manmade fiber that was used in apparel, household furnishings, and industry.
The plant sits on 300 acres. It was part of the original 13,500 acre that once served as a U.S. Military Reservation and Alabama Ordinance Works. At one time operations included a 710,000 square foot plant, a power plant, and a $1.5 million reservoir.
According to an article appearing in a May 25, 1971, edition of the “Sylacauga Advance” the plant announced it was closing due to “low volume in production, severe import competition, and a decline in demand for rayon tire cord.”
Beaunit was the last of three closings of rayon factories by its parent company. It specialized in the production of “manufactured high-wet modulus rayon staple.”
The closing put 836 employees out of work who were eligible to receive from the Alabama Employment Services unemployment allotments of up to $55 per week.
Since closing the facility has not been completely idle.
Childersburg B.J. Meeks said he recalled at least three industries occupying the facilities. It served as a storage/shipping area for a local industry, a distribution center for a plumbing supplier, and it served as the first location of Hawk Plastics which has since relocated in the Childersburg Industrial Park.
The land has been owned and managed by the Childersburg Industrial Development Board.
Blakeney Co., Inc. is owned by Blakeney Properties that is involved in property management and construction and is headquartered in Tuscaloosa.
On-site project manager and estimator Rusty Findley is overseeing the demolition of the plant. The building will be razed and scrapped before the land seeded. Already the loading docks have been reduced to rubble and scrap metal.
“We will seed it,” Findley said, “There’ll be a few cement slabs left.”
Findley said he found the abandoned plant an empty shell and found it intimidating to walk through alone.
Findley said he found himself halfway down the stairs to the basement but decided to turn back.
“The people living in the trailer (on-site) said it is haunted,” Findley said. “I told them, ‘Don’t tell me that.’”
Blakeney said he wasn’t ready to disclose plans for the property but he said it did not include the power plant nor would it interfere with the land-fill. He said he believed the power plant was being looked at by both Talladega and Shelby Counties.
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