Susquehanna Silk Dyeing Company

de grise silk

History

The silk dye works at East 16th Street and 7th Avenue was established ca. 1910 on a previously undeveloped tract by dyer Joseph De Gise. The works carried on a general business in dyeing skeins, piece goods and ribbons. Mueller's 1915 map of Paterson indicates that the original works was a brick building located just east of the 7th Avenue and East 15th Street intersection, and that this section of the dye house, which survives, is the oldest part of the works. Prior to 1927, the De Gise Dye Works was purchased by the Susquehanna Silk Mills of Sunbury, Pa., probably to dye the skeins produced at its throwing mills in Sunbury. Mr. De Gise was retained as the superintendent of the renamed Susquehanna Silk & Dyeing Company. During the 1920s, the works was greatly expanded with a 2-story dye house and steam plant added to the east of the original dye house. The original ca. 1910 dye house was also expanded to the west. By 1931, the works occupied the entire south side of 7th Avenue between East 15th and 16th Streets, but the Sanborn map published that year notes that the plant was not in operation, suggesting it had fallen on the hard economic times of the Great Depression. The plant, however, appears to have recovered, and may have been resurrected by Mr. De Gise since by 1950 it was operating as the De Gise Finishing Company and Susquehanna's involvement appears to have terminated. A second steam plant was added across 7th Avenue at the corner of East 15th Street, probably in the 1940s, but no later than 1953. Why the mid-sized dye house would have required a second steam plant is not exactly clear but it is a distinctive, character-defining feature of the works. It is presumed that a company with the name of Bryant took over the De Gise works after 1950 by evidence of the name painted on the smokestacks, but reference to a Bryant company was not found in the sources used for this study or through a general Internet search. The works are currently occupied by Pumping Solutions, a New York-area based company that services and installs pumps in commercial and industrial real estate. Pumping Solutions was established in 1996.

 

Statement of Significance

The Susquehanna Silk and Dyeing Company works is a significant representative example of mid-sized dye house architecture and steam plant layout as it developed during the first third of the 20th century. Its location within a predominantly early 20th century residential setting and location away from the Passaic River corridor, the historic center of Paterson's silk dyeing industry, illustrates how the silk dyeing industry grew to become interwoven with the city's urban fabric. The improvement of municipal water and sewer systems allowed the dyers to occupy sites away from the river that in the prior century would not have been suitable due to the problems of acquiring water and disposing of dye waste. Silk dyeing historian Albert H. Heusser noted in 1927 that Paterson "being far in the lead of any competitive silk center, %u2026 naturally witnesses from year to year new and transient comings and goings in the field of silk dyeing" (p. 357). Some individual dyers, such as Joseph De Gise, were, however, able to persist over relatively long periods of time in this economically competitive environment, even after many of the silk weaving mills had closed in the 1930s.



References

Hyde, E. B. Atlas of Passaic County, New Jersey, 1877.

Robinson, E. Atlas of the City of Paterson, New Jersey, 1884.

Robinson, E. Atlas of the City of Paterson and Haledon, New Jersey, 1899.

Mueller, A. H. Atlas of the City of Paterson, New Jersey, 1915.

Sanborn Map Company Insurance Maps of Paterson, New Jersey, 1915.

Sanborn Map Company Insurance Maps of Paterson, New Jersey, 1931.

Heusser, Albert H. A History of the Silk Dyeing Industry in the United States, 1927.


Associated Documents

Susquehanna Silk Dyeing Co. Site Form
Maps of Susquehanna Silk Dyeing Co.
Additional Photographs of Susquehanna Silk Dyeing Co.

Contact Us

City of Paterson, NJ

155 Market St
Paterson, NJ 07505
Get Directions

  • Phone: (973) 321-1600
  • Staff Directory