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He tears down the present but saves the past

Since starting his business Unlimited Removal & Demolition, Estaban Acosta has acquired quite a collection of vintage and antique items that he puts on display in his shop and warehouse next door. (Spenser R. Hasak)

LYNN — Squat, black and heavy, the iron stove takes up a corner of Estaban Acosta’s crowded Munroe Street office, but the demolition company owner has no plans to part with it.

The stove came from a Lynnfield home and the owner had it for years before Acosta was called to remove the stove and other items from the property.

Opening the stove’s top revealed a bag of coins. To Acosta, the discovery embodied a little bit of the former owner’s personality. Acosta returned the coins to their hiding place and there they remain.

“It’s someone’s past. On all of our jobs, I have to connect with people and we touch someone’s life every day,” he said.  A Dominican Republic native who has lived in the United States for more than 50 years, Acosta works out of two storefronts he owns on Munroe Street. His firm, Unlimited Removal & Demolition, ranges far and wide across New England tearing down structures in preparation for contractor jobs or clearing items out of properties, including homes.

Each job is a brief history lesson with removal work and conversations with homeowners revealing life stories and uncovering mysteries. A metal skull that fits easily into Acosta’s palm is covered with tiny metal heads and came from a Brookline home that also yielded an ornate Asian bell.

A pair of miniature motors built decades ago once operated a Boston church’s bells. Acosta keeps the motors handy in case the church or another one need the motors to bring their bells alive again.

“It’s different every day. You find something new,” he said.

Of the dozens of items he removed from a Puritan Road home in Swampscott, it is an old wooden shoeshine box that reminds him of the owner. A Euclid Avenue removal in Lynn turned up finely-executed drawings belonging to a former resident.

As a boy, Acosta helped his father dismantle boilers in Brooklyn. When he got old enough to work on his own, he decided to start a business. He moved first to Marblehead and then to Lynn 15 years ago and credits the late Enzo “Barchie” DeNino, a well-known scrap metal dealer famous for his work horse, “Queenie,”  for allowing him to operate out of DeNino’s Blossom Street yard.

Acosta built up business relationships with North Shore Heating Supply, Robert W. Irvine and Sons and other local contractors looking for a demolition company to do teardowns and removals.

He said Munroe Street property owner Stephen Sarcia called him in 2005 to haul washing machines, dryers and other appliances out of the former A & J Appliance at 49-51 Munroe. Sarcia followed up with a proposal for Acosta to buy the storefront and move his business downtown.

Acosta, a Salem resident and father of five, initially hesitated making the purchase but is glad he did. His office manager, Lynn resident Daniela Ibanez, said the company’s business has increased 750 percent since 2005.

“I love Lynn. It’s a place where you can continue to grow,” Ibanez said.

She runs the company from one of the high-ceilinged storefronts surrounded by collectibles and curiosities Acosta has accumulated over the years. The adjoining storefront is packed with heavy equipment, neatly organized on shelves and beams, that Acosta uses on the job. A crew of 10 to 15 workers — depending on the size of the job — meets him at his 151 Fayette St. work yard before retrieving the necessary equipment from the storage space and heading out to a job.

Acosta, who is a certified minority contractor, describes his work as “push, push, push,” with the search for new jobs never letting up. But he has a hobby outside of demolition: beekeeping. His little hive behind the storefronts yields honey that becomes gifts to friends and donations to local restaurants.

“I figure I’m stealing it from the bees, so I should give it away for free,” he said.

 

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