Burton Bros. gives to Toys for Tots

By Lynn R. Parks

Demolition of the iconic Burton Bros. hardware store building in downtown Seaford is set to start June 17. The 19th-century building was damaged in a fire Nov. 12; in late January, owner Ron Marvel said that he and his brother, Ric, had decided not to reopen.

The insurance company had estimated that it would take $1.5 million to restore the building to the point that it could once again house a store, Marvel said then.

"It just isn't feasible to put that kind of money into this building at this time," he added.

The demolition will be done by John Macklin and Son Demolition, Lincoln. On Monday, Marvel said that he did not know whether Macklin and Son will salvage any material from the building.

Marvel has already sold some features of the building, including an old pressed-tin ceiling that was in the appliance wing of the store. And he has donated metal shelves to the Marine Corps League, detachment #780, Seaford, for its Toys for Tots program.

On Monday morning, about a dozen members of the Marine Corps League were at the store to pack up the shelves. The shelves were taken to the Penco Public Warehouse complex on the west edge of town, where the league has an office suite in which it stores its toys. Penco is allowing Toys for Tots to use the suite at no charge.

Danny Messick, a charter member of the detachment, was at the store on Monday to help load up the shelves. He said that they will be very helpful in enabling the league members to organize donated toys.

"Right now, all of our toys are just lying on the floor," he said. "It would be very hard to keep them straight come Christmas time."

Messick said it is especially nice to get the shelves at no cost. If new, the shelves would be worth between $1,000 and $1,200, Marvel said.

"It is very generous of Ron and Ric to give them to us," Messick said.

Marvel, sitting in an office that he set up in the Burton Bros. warehouse after the fire, said that he was more than happy to be able to help out the community in some way. "I probably could have sold the shelves, but this way I know that they are going to a good organization," he said. "I've lived in this community for a long time and it's important to me to help however I can."

Marvel said that the old hardware store will be torn down and the lot where it's stood for more than 100 years graded and seeded in grass by the time of the annual Riverfest, scheduled for July 12 and 13 in downtown Seaford. The lot, as well as the warehouse, will be available for sale or for rent, he said. He and Ric have no plans to build anything new on the lot.

Marvel said that he's pleased with how the process of preparing for the demolition has worked out. "Two days after the fire, I promised myself that whatever we did, it would be done by the numbers," he said. "And that's how we've done things. It may not have moved along as fast as some folks thought it would, but it's been done right and nobody's gotten hurt."

At the same time, he's a bit melancholy about his forced retirement. "This is probably not the way I wanted to go out," he said. "But what can you do? Sometimes you get choices in life and sometimes you don't. In this case, I didn't have a choice. I just have to get used to it."

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