Contractors / Building Supplies
A damp fog hangs over the harbor, gulls caw out of the mist at waterfront laborers below as the Building Center of Gloucester opens its doors for another day’s business. Gloucester, Mass. A community that has grown out of the sea rather than down to the water’s edge is more a sub-culture than a city… more a way of life than a trading area.
So to, is The Building Center more than a business.
It was born out of a raging gasoline barge fire at the turn of the century when a heroic tugboat captain, “Cap” Heberle, towed the vessel inside the breakwater and extinguished the flames under constant threat of explosion to claim the $10,000 salvage money. I was this stake that allowed him to purchase a bankrupt coal company on the waterfront.
The hardware and lumber shopping center of today grew out of this coal business under his able captaincy and later, that of his son Charles Heberle Jr.
The building center does more than serve the hardware and building materials needs of the city. From its epic birth out of fire and sea to its waterfront location at One Harbor Loop, it is an integral part of the unique living entity that is Gloucester itself.
In 110 years of operation, The Building Center has done what hardware stores and home centers throughout the country seem to do so often. It has become a part of the community rather than merely a business within it. Marketing people refer to it as “grass roots distribution” and it is one of the qualities that makes the retail hardware industry endure.
While roots, tradition,