Foundation offers bricks for sale from Grimes Mill

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 5, 2013

SALISBURY — When Amy Goodnight heard she could own a piece of historic Grimes Mill, she jumped at the chance.
Goodnight and her husband Will are buying 250 bricks from the 117-year-old roller mill on North Church Street, which was destroyed Jan. 16 by a five-alarm fire. Historic Salisbury Foundation will start selling pallets of bricks this week for $100 each.
“We want them because we feel like Grimes Mills was such an important part of Salisbury history, and because Salisbury is such an important part of our family’s history,” Goodnight said.
The wire-cut bricks are solid clay and come in a variety of colors, from orange to purple to brown. The five-story mill contained an estimated 100,000 bricks, said Brian Davis, executive director for the foundation.
To order a pallet, stop by the office 215 Depot St. or call 704-636-0103. People who order three or more pallets receive a discount.
Proceeds from the brick sale, as well as the sale of recyclable metal from the mill, will go to offset the cost of cleaning up the site. Foundation officials met with three contractors last week to get quotes, Davis said.
Officials continue to investigate the cause of the fire and are awaiting a final report from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said Salisbury Police Capt. Sheila Lingle.
Police charged Cedric McKinley Thompson, 19, of Salisbury, with trying to steal copper and metal from the ruins of the mill. He remains in the Rowan County Detention Center under a $6,500 bond.
Thompson was arrested Jan. 31, two days after someone called in saying they saw a man with a flashlight near the mill. By the time police arrived, the suspect was gone. The mill is now under 24-hour surveillance.
Davis said the foundation has volunteers, employees and board members keeping a close watch over the area. Not long after the fire, a fence was erected around the remains of the building.
The volunteers are driving by and observing the property from different areas, “making sure no one breaks in,” Davis said.
Davis said he’s not heard whether a cause for the fire has been determined. The blaze burned through the night and into the next day. 
Davis said the mill did have an alarm system — a motion sensor and smoke detector. The mill predated sprinklers, but there were numerous fire extinguishers located throughout the building. He said the alarm system was actually updated a year ago.
Fire crews never went inside the structure, Davis said, and Salisbury Fire Department knew the foundation didn’t want firefighters to risk their lives to save the building.
The foundation hopes to preserve some iron machinery in the basement that survived the fire, Davis said. The foundation has about five months to sell what it can and remove the rest of the debris before the fence around the property comes down.
So far, seven people have ordered pallets of bricks.
The Goodnights don’t know yet what they will do with their historic bricks, which will cover about 42 square feet. The bricks are not suitable for construction but can be used for walkways, patios, landscaping borders and other decorative projects.
“We will have to decide the perfect lasting use for them that will do them justice,” Goodnight said.
She plans to bring a few bricks inside for use on a mantle or as bookends.
“Our kids can say, ‘Hey, we’ve got a piece of Grimes Mill,’ “ she said.

Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264 or reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.