An iconic part of Portland’s skyline is coming down.

Crews Friday began deconstruction of the nearly 150-foot brick smokestack, which pumped out molasses-scented steam from the Burnham and Morrill Baked Beans factory for decades.

The stack is not damaged, but has not been operational for over 20 years, “so rather than performing routine maintenance, it will be removed to ensure the safety of employees and the community,” a B&M spokesperson said in an email Friday evening.

The famous brick column, 145 feet tall and 14 feet around at the base, is expected to be gone by late August.

Visible from Interstate 295, the stack has been a symbol of the 1913 B&M factory for decades, but is not original to the building, having been built in 1956.

Workers dangle from a crane as they start to remove B&M’s smokestack Friday. The stack hasn’t been used for years, and the trademark smell of molasses from the cooking beans now emerges from an exhaust stack on the other side of the Portland factory. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Burnham & Morrill Co. went into business on Franklin Street in 1867 when George Burnham opened a food cannery to package meat, vegetables and fish. He was soon joined by Charles Morrill.

Nearly 50 years later, the operation moved to the edge of Casco Bay. At the time, it was primarily making fish flakes, used in chowders and stews.

It wasn’t until the 1920s that it started making the oven-baked beans that have become the company’s trademark product. The factory’s address was even named 1 Bean Pot Circle by the city of Portland in 1965.

PET Foods of St. Louis owned the business in the 1970s and 80s, and it was purchased by Pillsbury in the 1990s. In March 1999, B&G Foods Inc. bought B&M from the Pillsbury Company, and has maintained ownership since. B&G Foods also owns Green Giant, Crisco and Ortega, among other brands.

Today, the factory employs roughly 100 people and is the only B&G facility producing B&M products. The company makes millions of cans of baked beans each year, but now pumps out the molasses-scented steam from a exhaust stack on the other side of the building.


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