Warwick, RI – At about 9:40 a.m. Saturday, the Warwick water tower, pulled by cables attached to a backhoe, folded over toward Centerville Road, landing with a hollow crash and a cloud of sand.
The demolition took about two hours and 40 minutes.
Initially, crews attached cables to the tower and a backhoe with a clamp arm cutter was used to attempt to pull it over, but that wasn’t immediately successful. A two-man team had to use a bucket lift to cut support cables and girders before a second attempt successfully pulled over the towering structure.
“It’s like the last vestige of Apponaug history,” said Chris Purro of Warwick while waiting to see the spectacle.
“Certainly the largest piece. Forty-five years I’ve been walking past this thing. It was the one thing you always see,” he said.
Purro was one of about 15 people who showed up early for the demolition at its announced beginning at about 7 a.m. By 9 a.m., there were about 100 people gatheredat the fence along Rte. 117 in front of Dunkin Donuts and in the coffee shop’s lot.
Barbara Sweeney, out walking with a friend, stopped to have a look. “I’ll miss seeing it,” she said, even though the tower seems a bit of an eyesore to her.
“It’s the familiarity of it,” Sweeney said.
Stephen Cardi, treasurer for Cardi Corp., the contractor on the RI DOT’s Apponaug Circulator Project, which will be built in part through the lot where the landmark recently stood, said the demolition was sub-contracted by his company to Pinheiro Demolition. On Saturday, though, some of the equipment used was marked Vinagro.
Cardi said, nostalgia aside, the demolition will make way for much needed and long awaited traffic improvements in Apponaug.
“The whole area has been such a source of aggravation for so many people for so many years,” Cardi said.
Cardi, who’s in his 70s now, pointed out the tower has only been so dominant on the horizon for the last few years, when buildings around it kept it company in people’s views.
“So it didn’t stand out like it does now,” Cardi said on Thursday, before the demolition.
Rob has worked as reporter and editor for several publications, including The Kent County Daily Times and Coventry Courier, before working for Gatehouse in MA then moving home with Patch Media. Now he's publisher and editor of WarwickPost.com. Contact him at [email protected] with tips, press releases, advertising inquiries, and concerns.