Brick warehouse in Gunma at risk of demolition

A 90 year old red-brick warehouse built during the Taisho period in Ora Town, Gunma, is at risk of being demolished in the near future.

The building was once used in the production of “nakanogasuri” – a style of cloth-weaving dyed with wooden patterns, and is now owned by the JA Oura Tatebayashi Agricultural Cooperative (JA). The warehouse suffered structural damage during the Tohoku earthquake and the owner has expressed intent to demolish the structure.

Although there are no remaining historical records, local residents say the warehouses were built by fabric merchant, Kitaro Takazawa, as a wool factory in 1919. However, problems with the yarn meant that the factory never reached mass production levels. Instead, residents used it to store and inspect locally-produced nakanogasuri cloth.

During World War II it became a storehouse for military goods used by the Nakajima Aircraft Company. From the 1950s it was used for several years as a roller skating rink, and the “Nakano Roller Skate Rink” name is still slightly visible on the building. Afterwards it was purchased by the Agricultural Cooperative as a storehouse for rice and wheat. The buildings have not been in use for the past few years.

The Tohoku earthquake caused cracks to appear in the walls and damaged the mortar.

The Meiji Architectural Society sent e-mails to the owner, Ora Town and Gunma Prefecture officials, urging the preservation of the warehouses. The president of the Society said the the worsening economic conditions in these towns makes it very difficult for the preservation of old buildings.

Source: The Chunichi Shimbun, January 22, 2012.

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