The Cherokee Preservation Foundation helps preserve the historic significance of Jackson County renewal project site.

The old Drexel furniture factory in Whittier isn’t producing much these days, unless you count bird nests and ivy vines as products. Tall grasses wave across the 21-acre property, obscuring the wood pallets strewn across the yard and reaching into a crumbling woodshed offset from the main building. Vines spider across the building’s brick exterior, and swallows dart and dive in the grasses.

“Vandals were taking the metal in here, stealing it and selling it for scrap,” said Gerald Green, Jackson County planner, as he stood at the entrance to the vast, dark expanse inside the factory. Sunlight from the big truck entrance behind him could reach only so far into the 82,000 square feet of steel and concrete ahead.

A couple years ago, one of those vandals’ vehicles caught fire while on the site. That, Green said, was when the county ‘first started saying, ‘We have to do something about this.’”

Originally built in 1964, the plant shut down in the 1990s and passed to county ownership in the early 2000s. Clearwood, LLC — another wood products company — leased the building for a few years after that, but that company soon closed down. For the past five years, the Drexel factory has sat vacant.

Read the full story here:

Nibbling at the elephant: Plan to flip abandoned factory into community center inches forward.

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