Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Red Brick Chimney - A World War I Monument?

If you've ever travelled south on Interstate 95 through south Georgia, you have probably noticed the tall deteriorating chimney that one of the on-ramps wraps around.  For many years, I wondered how this brick structure had come to reside amongst the 1950's neighborhood and within a short distance of the interstate.  Even though I wasn't familiar with it's history I had a strong pang of sadness hit my gut when its current owner painted it white and used it as a sign for their business, which was located at the base of the chimney.  

So, when one of our recent geocaching treks took us quite close to this odd structure, my curiosity finally resulted in me doing some research.  During the 19 months that the United States was involved with World War I, two picric plants were commissioned.  This brick chimney and a few small out buildings are all that remains of this 7 million dollar plant.  Just a month before the plant was completed the war ended, and after that the history of the facility becomes quite sketchy.  Ultimately many of the buildings, including the twin to this chimney, were destroyed with the exception of a few out buildings.  Those that remain and that are now used for more modern businesses, feature unusually thick brick walls and large oak beams, as picric was explosive in nature.

While I'd like to take my children all over the country to see many of the monuments created to honor our war veterans, I believe this is just as much a memorial as any that were designed, with that sole purpose in mind.  I wonder as we approach the 100th anniversary of our involvement in World War I, which is five short years away, if structures such as these will become more valuable to us.  

One thing I know for sure...

I was right to regret that it had been forever changed with this layer of white paint.

Do you have a building, factory, or wharf in your neighborhood that was built to support World War I or II?  
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