HAVERHILL (CBS) – A landmark smokestack in Haverhill will be taken down brick-by-brick after it was struck by lightning over the weekend.

The smokestack at the former L.H. Hamel Leather Company was hit Sunday, sending bricks and debris flying towards the entrance of the Hamel Mill lofts apartment complex next door. No one was hurt but more than 100 people living there had to be evacuated because authorities are concerned the smokestack could collapse at any moment.

The smokestack at the former L.H. Hamel Leather Company was hit by lightning June 30. (WBZ-TV)

Engineers were brought in Monday to assess the damage from a crane and then take the chimney down brick by brick for safety reasons.

“My windows are very close. I know they have the radius down and stuff like that but I’m one apartment away…a little bit nerve-wracking,” said tenant Kailey Case.

Lightning in Haverhill Sunday, June 30, 2019. (Photo credit: Austin/Victoria)

The smokestack is a piece of the city’s manufacturing history.

“This was at one time, one of the largest shoe factories in the whole world, Hamel Leather Company. This was a symbol so we’re very sorry to see it go but safety has to come first,” said Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini.

He also said some of the bricks will be donated to a local museum.

A spokesperson for Hamel Mill Lofts told WBZ-TV, “We hope to complete the work necessary to create a safe condition on Tuesday. We are in touch with evacuated residents directly, and we will let them know as soon as local authorities declare the area safe and permit their return to their homes. We know the smokestack is a historic and cherished Haverhill landmark. While we regret having to dismantle it, we are compelled to prioritize safety and follow the direction of local authorities.”

Comments (3)
  1. Patty Daley says:

    They never should have named the tannery “Hamel Mills”. Our family DID NOT make textiles, we made leather. garment splits for clothes, shoe and boot leather. We supplied the company that made Florsheim Shoes and others. It was never called a mill in any Hamel home. Now we are losing the real name because the stack has to come down. Grand Uncle Louis and Grandpa Herbert must be spinning in their graves.

  2. James Curran says:

    Why aren’t they rebuilding it? If its an historic landmark and they are taking it down brick by brick why not just take the bricks down to a point beyond the crack and just build it back up?? Its an historic smokestack!!! Save it!! This country keeps losing more and more historic artifacts for new garbage to be built that will never become “historic”. We need to preserve these treasures for future generations.