By Adam Strunk
After looking over First Street for more than 100 years, the Fred Harvey Building is coming down.
Bulldozers could be seen Wednesday morning, beginning demolition work on the remaining multistory building on the property that once served as a carbonation and bottling plant. The building was part of the larger Fred Harvey Farm Complex, which Fred Harvey moved to Newton and used to supply his famous Harvey Houses up and down the rail line that passes nearby.
The City of Newton stated the owner of the property took out a demolition permit on Monday for the property and has begun razing the structure.
The location of the structure is zoned industrial. The Harvey County Government website currently lists Builders Concrete and Supply of Newton as the owners of the property.
According to the Harvey County Historical Society, the building served as a produce storage as well as a bottling plant. Fred Harvey constructed the building in 1918 adjacent to Sand Creek. It currently sits just south of Athletic Park along First Street on the east side of the First Street bridge.
The plant served as an early outpost for an up-and-coming Atlanta soft drink: Coca-Cola. Fred Harvey worked with Coca-Cola to gain a franchise to bottle the soda at the Newton facility. The facility took advantage of the clean water in the area to add to the syrup provided by the company. Fred Harvey’s company then bottled and sold it.
There were also, at one time, dairy and poultry production facilities on the property, according to the historical society.
While people who own a building in both the Downtown and McKinley Historic Districts have to get approval for most large-scale properties they undertake, the Fred Harvey House is not listed on any local, state or federal registers.
That’s according to Rebecca Likiardopoulos, who heads up the Newton Office of Revitalization and Preservation.
“Because it is not a listed property and/or in a district, the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, nor the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) nor the National Parks Service has purview or jurisdiction to review proposed changes to the building or property,” she said in an email to city commissioners, giving a heads up to them about what was happening in case they had questions from residents. “As it is located in an industrially zoned property; it is privately owned; it is not situated for redevelopment as an attraction or destination (although there has been much discussion of such an option over the years).”
Harvey County Now hopes to have a more in-depth story on the building and the future of the property in an upcoming issue. Keep your eyes open for updates.