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Spaulding Fibre Ruins, Tonawanda, New York
Spaulding Fibre Ruins, Tonawanda, New York
Picture from a scanned film image shot in 2000. This industrial relic is under demolition. From the Tonawanda News... It is unlikely, however, that the 47-acre property will be as bustling as it once was, with 850,000 square feet; a workforce of 1,500; a $9 million payroll in 1960s dollars and an economic impact of $10 million during its heyday. Such was the success the facility off Wheeler Street enjoyed when it was a key cog in an extensive operation that spanned the entire country and had affiliates in Paris and London. But, like countless other industrial sites around the country, its decline has left a municipality with a hefty burden — cleaning it up for redevelopment. Jonas Spaulding formed the company in 1873, when he constructed a mill to produce fiberboards, which were used largely in the shoe industry. By 1900, the company had expanded into New Hampshire, and in 1911, the City of Tonawanda would roll out the red carpet for the construction of a new plant that would produce vulcanized fiber for the shoe and textile industries. When Jonas Spaulding died at the turn of the 20th century, his three sons, Huntley, Rolland and Leon assumed control of the company and reorganized it as J. Spaulding & Sons Co. It was renamed the Spaulding Fibre Co. shortly after World War I. Successful even outside of the business world, Rolland and Huntley both were elected to the governorship of New Hampshire, with Rolland serving from 1915-16 and Huntley from 1927-28. Tonawanda’s big day came May 23, 1911, when Spaulding announced plans to build a new facility on Julia Pohl’s farm on Wheeler Street. Spaulding chose Tonawanda because of its abundant supplies of water and power and its proximity both to the Great Lakes and the Erie Canal. The Tonawanda News hailed it at the time as “one of the biggest industrial booms that the Tonawandas have ever experienced.” Mayor Charles Zuckmaier was credited with bringing the major corporation to the city. On July 17, 1911, officials broke ground on the new plant, which cost $600,000 at the time. It was designed to produce five tons of fiber sheeting and one ton of fiber tubing each day. On April 1, 1912, operations began at the Tonawanda facility, employing 40. Throughout the better half of the 20th century, the company grew exponentially, producing components for electrical appliances such as televisions, radios and sewing machines, among countless other applications. In 1961, when Spaulding’s Tonawanda operations reached their peak, the Tonawanda News marked the plant’s 50th anniversary with a special 22-page section. At the time, the facility comprised 610,000 square feet, employed 1,500 people and had a payroll of more than $9 million. In addition, it was the city’s largest taxpayer, with a bill of $153,818. The facility used 2,348 tons of coal — enough to heat 335 homes all winter long, the company said in a fact sheet — and used more than 200 million gallons of water. Within the next decade, however, the plant’s workforce was slashed to about 850. When it closed Aug. 24, 1992, there were 300 employees. After closing, the site fell into disrepair, leaving massive cleanup costs. Several years ago, the Spaulding Fibre Steering Committee hired LiRo Engineers to conduct a site investigation and Remedial Alternatives Report, because of the chemicals used while the plant was in commission.
Spaulding Fibre Plant Ruins, Tonawanda
Spaulding Fibre Plant Ruins, Tonawanda
From scanned film image shot in early 2000's This industrial relic is under demolition. From the Tonawanda News... It is unlikely, however, that the 47-acre property will be as bustling as it once was, with 850,000 square feet; a workforce of 1,500; a $9 million payroll in 1960s dollars and an economic impact of $10 million during its heyday. Such was the success the facility off Wheeler Street enjoyed when it was a key cog in an extensive operation that spanned the entire country and had affiliates in Paris and London. But, like countless other industrial sites around the country, its decline has left a municipality with a hefty burden — cleaning it up for redevelopment. Jonas Spaulding formed the company in 1873, when he constructed a mill to produce fiberboards, which were used largely in the shoe industry. By 1900, the company had expanded into New Hampshire, and in 1911, the City of Tonawanda would roll out the red carpet for the construction of a new plant that would produce vulcanized fiber for the shoe and textile industries. When Jonas Spaulding died at the turn of the 20th century, his three sons, Huntley, Rolland and Leon assumed control of the company and reorganized it as J. Spaulding & Sons Co. It was renamed the Spaulding Fibre Co. shortly after World War I. Successful even outside of the business world, Rolland and Huntley both were elected to the governorship of New Hampshire, with Rolland serving from 1915-16 and Huntley from 1927-28. Tonawanda’s big day came May 23, 1911, when Spaulding announced plans to build a new facility on Julia Pohl’s farm on Wheeler Street. Spaulding chose Tonawanda because of its abundant supplies of water and power and its proximity both to the Great Lakes and the Erie Canal. The Tonawanda News hailed it at the time as “one of the biggest industrial booms that the Tonawandas have ever experienced.” Mayor Charles Zuckmaier was credited with bringing the major corporation to the city. On July 17, 1911, officials broke ground on the new plant, which cost $600,000 at the time. It was designed to produce five tons of fiber sheeting and one ton of fiber tubing each day. On April 1, 1912, operations began at the Tonawanda facility, employing 40. Throughout the better half of the 20th century, the company grew exponentially, producing components for electrical appliances such as televisions, radios and sewing machines, among countless other applications. In 1961, when Spaulding’s Tonawanda operations reached their peak, the Tonawanda News marked the plant’s 50th anniversary with a special 22-page section. At the time, the facility comprised 610,000 square feet, employed 1,500 people and had a payroll of more than $9 million. In addition, it was the city’s largest taxpayer, with a bill of $153,818. The facility used 2,348 tons of coal — enough to heat 335 homes all winter long, the company said in a fact sheet — and used more than 200 million gallons of water. Within the next decade, however, the plant’s workforce was slashed to about 850. When it closed Aug. 24, 1992, there were 300 employees. After closing, the site fell into disrepair, leaving massive cleanup costs. Several years ago, the Spaulding Fibre Steering Committee hired LiRo Engineers to conduct a site investigation and Remedial Alternatives Report, because of the chemicals used while the plant was in commission.

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