The Dress Factory
This striking building sits amidst a blue collar neighborhood of tired houses and local watering holes, but despite its stand out location on a property void of trees, the building is easy to miss because of its distant perch from the main road out front. Turning down the dead end side street that runs along the side of the rambling property, you begin to notice its beautiful symmetry. Constructed in 1946 in the art deco style, which stripped down buildings in order to express their functionality, the facade is still stunning, with its orange tiles and rows of uniform windows that soar overhead, framed by the power lines. The bright orange adds strange color to an otherwise dull landscape of aging vinyl siding and dirty snowbanks.
The factory sustained serious damages in 2007 when a mysterious fire broke out in the art deco wing, years of old records stored in boxes stashed inside fed the inferno. In 2012, the south wing was the victim of demolition when it was condemned by the city, leaving a crumbling hole in the ground filled with rotting debris and deceitful snowdrifts, covering the potential dangers. Most of the ensuing damage to this blighted property has been done by nature, the rest has been at the malicious acts of trespassers. Graffiti covered the crumbling walls where ever there was convenient access, and several sets of footprints were scattered through knee deep snowbanks, leading to broken basement windows, showing their accent into the dark and cold confines of the cavernous building.
Recently, the building was put up for auction, but no one made a bid on it. From what I heard, the place would be a potential nightmare to redevelop, leaving its future uncertain. Apart from the conspicuous evidence of the demolition, part of the walls in the surviving half of the building are showing wear, with long jagged cracks running down from ceiling to ground, leaving this old ghost to carry the blood and the wounds of its former glory resting underneath a haze of grey, with skies declaring storms.
Walking around the building, the neighborhood was strangely quiet despite being within walking distance from the downtown district. And then, the startling sound of something aching and swaying in the wind, banging against a wall carried through the amphitheater like interior – the wind had kicked up a lone pair of surviving Venetian blinds still clinging to a broken window.
But there is some progress here. Across the street sits the welcoming sight of a solar farm constructed over a former blighted property, something that wasn’t there last time I was in the area.
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