Mill Survey 2012: Conditions & Assessments

Condition Assessments and Threats to Preservation: The 30 mills in this survey were found to be frequently underutilized with perhaps a third being vacant or partially vacant and available for lease. While this was not unanticipated, what was surprising was how many are in use, often as storage or distribution warehouses, as well as some which are engaged in light manufacturing. While it was not the purpose of the survey to collect quantifiable data on current real estate trends or available/vacant square footage, the general impression was that mills were contributing to the local economy and that viable alternative uses were available. That said, during July and August 2012, two of the mills on the original list of 30 - the John Royle & Sons mill at 10 Essex Street and the Empire Piece Dyeing Works at 102-124 Madison Avenue - were razed, clearly demonstrating the ever-looming threat to these properties. The loss of historic industrial properties is a national trend - actually one that has been on-going for decades - that has usually only received passing attention from the preservation community at large. This trend may be changing since, in the past few years, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and other national organizations like the Society for Industrial Archeology (SIA) have made efforts to promote the cause of industrial heritage as evidenced by several co-sponsored paper sessions at the 2011 National Trust annual conference in Buffalo, New York, and a 2010 workshop sponsored by the National Trust, the SIA and the Kaplan Foundation to discuss opportunities for preservationists to advocate for historic mills and other types of industrial resources. To learn more about the survey's recommendations for the future of Paterson's mills, please click here.


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