Like many northeastern cities, large and small, that flourished during the Industrial Revolution, Salem is still wearing the scars of its productive past: there are decaying tanneries, free-standing chimneys, and ramshackle warehouses in close proximity to more beautiful (and lively) places around town. I think these sites are simply part of the layered texture of the city, and of course a century or more ago their builders would never associate the word “scar” with these constructions: they were industrial palaces. I’ve been thinking about lead mills recently, as there is a large site on the Salem-Marblehead line that is the subject of a planning study right now. The buildings of the Forest River/ Chadwick Lead Mills sat on this site (originally known as “Throgmorton Cove”) for nearly 150 years, producing bullets for Union soldiers, and “pure” white lead for generations of painters. The company received authorization to fill in the Forest River in three separate occasions in the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, creating the landscape that had to be cleaned up a century later, after its almost-landmark building burned to the ground in 1968. An earlier–palatial and pastoral–incarnation of the company is represented by a F.F. Oakley chromolithograph in the collection of the Boston Athenaeum, along with a similar image of its competitor across town, the Salem Lead Works. I do think it is interesting how nineteenth-century printmakers portrayed industrial buildings not as encroaching on the landscape, but as part of it.
Boston Athenaeum chromolithographs: F.F. Oakley Litho., 1860; Chas. H. Crosby & Co. Lith., 1872, both Boston.
Nothing survives of this second Lead works, which was situated on the North River along the train tracks–as you can see in the lithograph, except for little scraps of paper which advertised its products, which of course necessitated a century-long (and more) deleading process pursued not only by cities, but also individual property-owners.
Forest River Lead Company logos from a 1919 billhead; Salem Lead Company ad from the 1886 Salem Directory; 1930s Dutch Boy ad featuring “Salem White Lead”.
May 14th, 2014 at 8:10 am
Its that lead paint that helped preserve the exterior of so many of the buildings we love.
May 14th, 2014 at 8:15 am
Good point–I guess you’ve got to take the good with the bad!
May 15th, 2014 at 2:38 am
Lead water pipes, gross.
I love the old pictures.
May 15th, 2014 at 5:31 pm
White Lead….pure white lead….alchemical sounding. Quasi mystical until you consider…