The adventure today set my sights on the Scranton Lace Company, in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Shuttered in 2002, this massive complex is quite different then two other mills I’ve visited. The Lonaconing Mill was preserved – left in the same state it was when it was shutdown. The Children’s Clothing Factory in a state of purgatory – not 100% there, but not stripped. Scranton? Completely devoid of what it once was.Water, broken windows, and punch cards lined the various floors. The smell of fire (1, 2) permeated other levels of this sprawling complex.
At roughly 600,000 square feet, navigating meant going in circles often until you could grasp the intricacies of navigating building to building via elevated walkways, or that you might have to go up, to go down.
The site held a few gems – the two key ones being the bowling alley and Nottingham Mill. We learned that during the heyday of the mill, neighborhood kids would work for $0.75. Their job? To set the pins and roll the balls back to those playing. The polished wood of the alley still appeared in rather good shape. Water was on one lane and you could tell it had pooled on others.
To get to the last remaining mill, I had to make my way through a building that had at one point, probably experienced a partial collapse. To the right is a snap – the bays at the top of the shot are clearly blocked up with one remaining doorway. Between the floors, you can see where the concrete broke off and crashed down. What was left of this floor was piled up.
The mill itself is a stunning piece of equipment. As it stood there in the ruins, the realization that it was stopped mid-shift in order to let the employee’s go hit. This was the last piece of silk that the factory would produce and it was left on the production line as the workers vacated.
This may be the last mill of its kind in the US, and with development plans moving forward on the site, it may not be here much longer. There are talks to keep upwards of 60% of the buildings in place, with apartments, condo’s, a gym, and a grocery store moving in after renovation.
All the photo’s in the set can be seen here.