Dismantling An Old Mill

Most recent update: Monday February 15, 2016
Winter months are a chance for photography projects that are off the usual course for us. What follows is a pictorial essay about dismantling an old mill. It doesn’t get much further from wedding photography! This was near where we live and was right up our alley. We love old buildings and moments from the past frozen in time. We love the stark emptiness of buildings that have passed a healthy, long, productive lifetime. Amidst dozens of mill buildings on the grounds of Biddeford, Maine’s sprawling Pepperell Mill Campus, most of which have been or are being fully renovated and brought to a new life some 150+ years since built, one building clearly was destined for a different fate; having long ago fulfilled its life mission. Ultimately the health of the campus and of its surrounding neighboring mill buildings is dependent on this space being cleared. Be sure to see, at the bottom of this post, our depiction of the various inside areas of this old building in the last days before Massachusetts-based Costello Dismantling Company brought its huge Volvo tractor crane in to start the painstakingly meticulous dismantling piece-by-piece, with a significant amount of wood being reclaimed for re-use. Note that this is dismantling versus demolition. As much as can possibly be saved is being saved. Photographically we had some fun using some high definition rendering (HDR) post-processing in some of the shots, something we virtually never use in our mainline work as Maine wedding photographers. If there is a time and place for this kind of processing, for us, it is in a shoot like this one. After the two introductory photos in this post, it’s important to note that the oldest images will be at the bottom and as we update the post the updates will be at toward the top of the post. Photos by Russell and Liz Caron, and all post-processing and time-lapse work was done in our studio. 

PHOTOS OF THE DAY, February 15, 2016

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The main structure of Building 16 is all but totally gone in this image taken on February 15, 2016. ©2016 Russell Caron Photography, Inc.

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Looking into the old stair tower. A the very beginning of this blog post (scroll all the way toward the bottom) there is a photograph inside this stairway before it was dismantled. ©2016 Russell Caron Photography, Inc.

PHOTOS OF THE DAY, February 11, 2016:  A before/after look:

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BEFORE (left) January 2, 2016. AFTER (right) same vantage point on February 11, 2016. ©2016 Russell Caron Photography, Inc.


PHOTOS OF THE DAY: February 4, 2016

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Thursday, February 4, 2016, 4PM. One month and two days since the first piece of Building 16 was taken, little remains today. ©2016 Russell Caron Photography, Inc.
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February 4, 2016, 9AM: Bricks fall as the very back wall of Building 16 comes down, leaving new open views of Building 15. ©2016 Russell Caron Photography

More still photos, including some from before the dismantling, follow below.


TIME LAPSE VIDEO #4: February 4-11, 2016
This one doesn’t have as much dismantling activity as do videos #1, 2, and 3 but it does have some great sky, snow, moon and planet setting, and skies so it’s still worth a look! You know snow can fall fast in Maine, but (watch the window sill) did you know it can melt away just as fast>

January 20 – 28, 2016

TIME LAPSE VIDEO #2: January 11, 2016

TIME LAPSE VIDEO #1: January 8, 2015


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February 3, 2016: Dismantling reaches the back wall of Building 16. ©2016 Russell Caron Photography, Inc.
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January 28, 2016: Master of his craft: Ed is the crane operator responsible for the careful dismantling of every piece of Building 16. ©2016 Russell Caron Photography Inc.
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January 28, 2016. ©2016 Russell Caron Photography Inc.
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Thursday, January 28, 2016. At ground level. ©2016 Russell Caron Photography Inc.
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Thursday, January 28, 2016. The dismantling of Building 16 is past the 75% point in terms of the removal of the physical structure. ©2016 Russell Caron Photography, Inc.
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January 26, 2016. Old wood from Building 16 being stockpiled and sorted. ©2016 Russell Caron Photography, Inc.
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Sunset over the mills on Monday, January 25, 2016 as material falls from the claws of the giant Costello Dismantling Co. crane. ©2016 Russell Caron Photography, Inc.
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Ground-level view on Monday, January 25, 2016. The view is becoming increasingly more expansive. ©2016 Russell Caron Photography, Inc.
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January 25, 2016. A huge chunk of brick wall comes crashing down to become fill. ©2016 Russell Caron Photography, Inc.
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January 21, 2015: Dismantling continues on Pepperell Mill Campus Building #16, and soon will be at or past the 50% point. ©2016 Russell Caron Photography, Inc.
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January 20, 2016: Progress! Roughly half of the former Building 16 has been dismantled. Here the crane operator picks away at side towers on the north wall, previously serving as bathrooms for mill workers. ©2016 Russell Caron Photography, Inc.

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Dusk settles in to the Pepperell Mill Campus as the sole crane operator keeps picking away, piece-by-piece, at the dismantling of Building 16 on a cold January 18, 2016 evening. ©2016 Russell Caron Photography, Inc.
A black and white nighttime shot from a nearby other mill building as another day of saving beams and boards of Pepperell Mill Campus Building #16 on January 14, 2016. ©2016 Russell Caron Photography, Inc.
A black and white nighttime shot from a nearby other mill building as another day of saving beams and boards of Pepperell Mill Campus Building #16 on January 14, 2016. ©2016 Russell Caron Photography, Inc.
January 7, 2016:

dismantling starts

piece by piece dismantling of the mill building #16peeling off of the rooflots of old debris flies from the roof being removeddismantling an old mill, an old beam waiting to be removedwide angle exterior view of bldg 16dramatic black and white view of dismantling building 16costello dismantlingblack and white details the claw grips at the top floorbuilding parts fall in building dismantledusk at building being dismantledbalck and white wide view bldg 16bricks from the building being dismantledbuilding 16 comes downbuilding 16 from the ground view
This bridge connected the 2nd and 3rd stories of Building #18 to Building #16. 
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Building 16 as it was
Below, various views inside of Mill Building #16 before dismantling started.

interior shot of building 16inside a small room in bldg 16top floor of bldg 16abandoned buildings

Below left, looking up through now-opened ceilings and floors. Much wood had already been reclaimed before any dismantling started. Below, right, looking down a previously-used shaft.  hardware and parts from inside the buildingvarious view inside bldg 16

old details in historyold mill interiorabandoned bathroom in old millstill life inside old millblack and white details

bldg 16 moments in timebefore the dismantling of bldg 16old chairs in the mill building 16

If you enjoyed this post on dismantling an old mill, we would love for you to post a comment below, AND sharing would be awesome too! Thank you!!
Russell and Liz Caron, Maine wedding photographers at Russell Caron Wedding Photography, put the fun into wedding photography for Maine wedding couples. Feel the love as this dynamic pair effortlessly capture each of your cherished moments, producing natural poses and unparalleled art for your special day. For more information, please contact us right away!


  1. I live in Building 35, and since we moved here in July, I’ve been curious as to how building 16 looked on the inside. I’m very interested in the history of the mills. Your photos perfectly satisfied my curiosity. It’s great to see a close up view of the dismantling. Thanks for sharing your beautiful shots.

  2. I wish I had known that it was going to be dismantled. Anyone that had a connection with the Pepperell mills will enjoy and at the same time be heart broken… I love walking through the mills. To me, the mills are beautiful!

  3. Thank you for these images. As you may know, I was the site photographer for the York Institute/Dyer Library when Factory Island was renovated in the late ’80’s & early ’90’s. I’m now living in Nashua, and have missed this demolition on the “other” side of the river. Wish I’d been able to do my Factory Island stuff digitally – what an advantage you have! Just don’t forget to shoot some b/w film, too.

  4. Hey…that’s my hubby!!!
    Truly amazing to see (and not only hear by phone) the painstaking efforts to diligently, safely and effectively DISMANTLE (not demo) this structure! You’ve captured a beautiful & unique visual testimony of my husband’s “artistic” labor with your photographic artistry.
    It’s almost as if the lens captured a certain reverence to the mill’s history by dismantling to repurpose, as opposed to demolishing the edifice and smashing it to the ground.
    Beautifully done!!!
    Great work, Ed!!!
    Hurry home babe…me and the boys miss you!!!

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