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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To give you an idea of what was lost, Google Street view still has the image of the South Wing before it was demolished.

To give you an idea of what was lost, Google Street view still has the image of the South Wing before it was demolished.


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18 Comments on “The Dress Factory

    • i pass by there almost every day,i love that building,thanks for exposing it.I wish I had the funds to bid on it.

  1. It is sad to see the disintegration. Always liked the tiles on the building. Can understand why nobody bid on it after seeing your pictures.

  2. The pictures you get of some these places are pretty amazing. Really captures the history of these places. Keep up the good work

  3. I haven’t been to your blog in awhile. It’s always fascinating, informative, and evocative. Thanks again, Chad! PS You mentioned “the city” but never said which one… I’m thinking this is Burlington?

    • I think this was Rutland Vt on the corner of State Street and Cleveland Ave.

    • Thanks! I’ve been sort of slacking in the blog department lately, I’ll have to catch up on yours as well. This isn’t Burlington. I didn’t mention the city in order to stop heavy traffic from coming here. I guess the residents in the area already have enough on their plate, and didn’t want to add to that.

  4. This was a paintball place at one time after the sewing factory Every time I go by the place I always wonder what i could do with it . Nice design a good second Howe Scale project under the revitalization program I’m surprised no one bid on it .

    • What a cool idea, this would have been perfect for indoor paintball, or really anything recreational. I was a little surprised as well, but I read into it in a Green Mountain Times article, and I guess the reasons were it would take forever to get proper permits and do the construction. The area is considered to be contaminated and the repairs pricey. It’s too bad though, this place has so much potential.

  5. Man, that building has some potential Chad! It is gorgeous! Oh if those walls could talk. You captured it beautifully both with your words and photos. Oh it’s so sad someone doesn’t want to put some money into restoring it. I know it would be expensive, but it is truly a work of art. Thank you for sharing this lovely old building.

  6. I have always been drawn to this beautiful building, so sad to see it falling down. Thanks for sharing your journeys, I love your blog. Gloria from Worcester, VT

  7. It is so sad to see this beautiful building vacant. We are in such need of affordable housing in Rutland and there is actually such little land available for development. It is situated right across from the pedestrian trail that will link to the College of St Josephs. A friend said that there was toxic waste stored onsite, not sure if that is actually true.

    • I agree Michael, this cool building can have a lot of potential for Rutland. Just imagine the commercial, industrial or residential spaces it could offer if it was refurbished. From what I was told – it’s a brownfield property, so there are most likely quite a bit of contaminants leached into the soil, which of course is a huge roadblock.

  8. Love your blog. I work at the Rutland Farmer’s Market on Saturdays and was wondering how safe it would be to explore this case with a youngish (13?) kid. Terrible idea or adventure awaiting?

    • Hi Shira,

      Thanks for the kind words! I was exploring at 13, and loved it. My best advice is to be cautious and to be smart. Know what you’re getting into before hand. The building in question has quite a bit of hidden debris, so wear good boots. Not sure about homeless residents, and it’s in a busy city neighborhood, so you may have curious neighbors keeping an eye on it, so do what you feel comfortable with. If anything, it doesn’t hurt to just walk around and take a few photos of the exterior! Personally, I’m always up for an adventure lol

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