Century-old Ruffsdale distillery warehouse to be sold piece by piece

Mary Pickels
| Monday, June 17, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Barrels of whiskey no longer age inside the more than 100-year-old warehouse of the former Dillinger & Sons Distillery in Ruffsdale.

Ivy climbs many of the crumbling walls and broken windows.

“Kids around here, as a rite of passage, used to have to sneak into the building,” co-owner Keith Maginsky said.

The Ruffsdale resident sees the warehouse — 200 feet long, 50 feet wide and five floors tall — as a treasure trove of antique bricks and reclaimed wood.

Maginsky and his business partner, Peter Springston of Maryland, recently announced a one-time sale of what they call “antique building materials.”

Operators of MS Sales LLC, the two are selling stacks of reclaimed wood planks on eBay.

A full-time physics teacher in the Southmoreland School District and a part-time salvage salesman, Maginsky, 50, said the goal is to sell as much as possible, then raze the remainder.

He envisions constructing a modern building and leasing storage or office space while maintaining a salvage presence at the 9-acre site.

The two purchased the property, dating to 1885, about seven years ago for approximately $100,000, Maginsky said. They saw something of value being thrown away.

The internal structure of the warehouse is constructed primarily of oak and pine, with handmade brick and cut stone exterior walls.

The company's website states the building's construction was characteristic of the era, with ax-cut timbers, cut nails and post-and-beam construction.

“Right now, it is our place of business. It's either going to be knocked down, or it's going to fall down,” Maginsky said.

While it is not financially feasible to renovate the structure, its materials are hardy and historical, he said.

“We are trying to find a large buyer, and do it all in one shot. Or 10 medium buyers. Like any business, you bend and yield to the market,” Maginsky said.

Wood dealers have ascertained the age of the wood as original to the building, he said, and pricing is negotiable.

Maginsky estimated more than 70,000 board feet of oak and nearly 1 million bricks are in sale condition.

The original slate roof also is for sale.

A mechanical engineer, Maginsky built a semi-automatic saw to remove nails from the old beams. Cut and finished, he said, the wood has a natural aged look.

Smaller floor beams of longleaf pine are hard and durable, Maginsky said.

“Give that a light sanding, it's beautiful,” he said.

Conducting a tour of the warehouse, Maginsky pointed out pockets in the thick brick walls, where workers would have passed through floor and ceiling beams, hand-to-hand.

“It's pretty amazing to think they built all this by hand, with no electricity,” he said.

Pointing to the window placement, he said, “They constructed it to get the morning sun. Even in the winter, it gets very bright in the morning.”

At one time, Maginsky said, the distillery was the second biggest in the state.

“I think what really hit it was Prohibition (1920-1933). After that alcohol was still made, but I'm not sure if it was for consumption or industrial use,” he said.

“It would have been interesting to see this in its day,” Maginsky said.

For more information, visit www.oldwoodsale.com.

Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or mpickels@tribweb.com.

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