A few days ago, I saw a new show called Abandoned on the History Channel. It’s so new, that there is no information on their website about it. The hosts of the show explore abandoned buildings throughout America, salvaging goods and educating viewers on local history. Much to my delight, the pilot episode explores the Scranton Lace Factory.
Last week, I reflected on the old silk factory in Easton, PA. So I was very curious to learn about a lace factory in Scranton. After a little sleuthing, I found an excellent website called Abandoned America. Here is what the author said about the factory:
Established in 1890 and incorporated in 1897, the Scranton Lace Factory was once one of the premier producers of a variety of textiles ranging from tablecloths, napkins, yarn, lace, laminates, and many others. During World War II they provided parachutes, tarpaulins, and camouflage netting to the Allies. Marigold Mills is an enormous complex that once employed 1,400 people and boasted its own gym, barbershop, theater, four lane bowling alley, and an infirmary for its employees. Risky investments and advances in technology led to a slow decline in the textile mill’s prominence. In their final days the staff had dwindled to fifty (given the size of the buildings, one wonders how often they even crossed paths) and had average annual sales of about six million. In 2002 they finally shut their doors, and thus an era of prosperity and pride for many of their employees ended as well.
The old mill still houses the enormous looms needed to make commercial lace. Standing three stories high, and 50 feet long, these looms were made in Nottingham, England and shipped via boat in the late 1880s. The lace factory hired several English workers, as they needed staff that understood how to operate the massive equipment.
Most of the looms still have threads strung, with the unfinished lace exposed. The factory also contains thousands of punch cards. Punch cards are perforated, stiff paper patterns that control the design of a textile while it’s woven.
The bowling alley is still fully-operational, and the hosts of the show tested it out. Imagine how much the employees could enjoy themselves during their breaks. What a perk to have at the office!
It seems that a developer is interested in turning the mill into an apartment building. With a cash fee, you can enter the building and carry out whatever catches your eye. Road trip, anyone?
For more great photos of the abandoned Scranton Lace Factory, please visit: