Charles “Cap” Heberle was born in Richmond, Virginia in the late 1800s. His parents sent him to Essex, Massachusetts as an indentured servant hoping that he’d have a better life. After several years working on a farm in Essex, Cap was freed of his servitude on his 18th birthday.

Charlie had to decide whether to work on the farm in Essex or on the sea in Gloucester. The flip of a coin led Charlie to Gloucester where he worked as a tugboat operator. His hard work soon led him to become the captain of his own tugboat.

Gloucester Coal & Lumber Co.In October of 1903, a barge caught fire in Gloucester Harbor, and Cap Heberle risked his life to tow the barge close enough to allow the flames to be extinguished. For his bravery, he was awarded $4,000. He used the money to buy the Gloucester Coal and Lumber Company, which is now the Building Center.

Cap left the business to his son Charlie in the 1950s, who continued to move the business forward. He implemented the drive-through lumberyard in Gloucester, an idea he got while going through a tollbooth on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Charlie also began selling on a credit basis before major credit cards were invented.

Building Center Vintage Signage
Vintage Building Center Sign

In the 1970s a parcel of land came up for sale in Essex and Charlie jumped on the opportunity to expand westward. Coincidentally, the Essex store sits on the same land Cap farmed over 100 years ago.

The BC is now owned by two of Charlie’s daughters and the 4th generation is on site as well. While we are extremely proud of our past, we are 100% focused on our future. We look forward to remaining an integral part of Cape Ann, and we hope to see you soon!

Gloucester, MA & Essex, MA