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abandonedplaces

The Last Silk Mill - A Call To Arms

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Apr. 28th, 2011 | 01:39 am
mood: melancholymelancholy
posted by: dark_fetus in abandonedplaces

I know I just posted, and I do not mean to spam this community, but this is an important entry and time matters in this case...



Unfortunately, it's not often we come across a property that has a real chance of being saved...
More often than not my photography, and Christina's video, serve as a final farewell to a place who's job is finished and time has passed.
With this silk mill however, our motivation is not to pay homage to a place which will soon be nothing but a memory,
our aim here is to spread the word about a place that needs the help of as many people as possible, as soon as possible.
At the end of this write-up you will find contact information, please help out if you can.
I know that the “urban explorers” community is loose-weaved at best, but perhaps we can rally together for causes such as this.
This message also goes out to historians, preservationists, and anyone who understands the value found in these old places.
We have a real chance with this one, hopefully it doesn't slip through our fingers...

The concept for the Lonaconing silk mill was birthed in the early 1900's when a local banker by the name of Mr. Duncan Sloan overheard that the Klotz Throwing Company
was looking for a suitable site for their new plant. Mr. Sloan approached the Klotz Company, and offered his hometown of Lonaconing as a prime location for them to set up shop.
He cited the area's low cost of fuel and surplus labor force as key items for consideration. The coal industry that drove the region had a very high layoff rate,
and the mill would supplement wages and provide a more steady employment opportunity. Lonaconing was also easily accessible via railway,
an important thing to consider when setting up industry in the early 1900's.



Within several short weeks, a town meeting was held at the Evans Opera House in Lonaconing.
The Klotz Throwing Company proposed erecting their new silk mill within the town, and the townspeople agreed to the plans.
Ground broke for the new mill, August 13, 1905, and by the 1920's the mill employed over 300 people.
By the 1940's and 50's though, old machines in a relatively small mill proved no match for much larger and modern facilities, and in 1957 the mill was forced to close.
Burt Rowan, who worked at the silk mill during the 1940's had this to say about the factory's role in the small town of Lonaconing:
“It kept the bread and butter on a lot of people’s tables because of the coal mine strikes and other problems... it really helped the economy.”

The mill sat unused, but secure until the 1970's, when it was privately purchased by a local resident, who envisioned saving the old place for future generations.
Today he is on his mid-seventies and still holds out hope for the slowing decaying mill.
I read several first-hand accounts of the mill, comparing it to a time capsule... but as I stood watching water flowing in though blackened ceiling boards, it reminded me more of a tomb.
The mill is dying, and without a new roof, there will be no hope of preserving it much longer. The elderly owner still comes to the mill on an almost daily basis,
emptying buckets of rain water out the third floor window. More often than not he does this alone.
Being the last intact silk mill in the United States, it was placed on the Endangered Maryland list in 2007, but sadly no real assistance has followed.
Some plastic tarping has been added as a temporary and partial solution, but without a new roof by this winter, all may finally be lost to history.

Here is where you can play a substantial part in all this:
Below I have provided contact information for Preservation Maryland, the people on who's behalf we documented this mill.
They sincerely wish to save this place, preserve it, and open it to the public. To do so they need to show that there is a genuine interest in the mill.
They also need to generate enough funding to re-roof the facility with metal roofing. Once the roof is secure, then work can get underway inside.
Additionally, they are considering allowing groups of photographers in on weekends for a small fee, all of which will go toward the much-needed roof.
I've also included a link to a page containing the contact info of most officials for Lonaconing township.
So please, if you can help in any way, contact the people below.

Email address for Kathleen Erkert of Preservation Maryland:
Tell her you read our piece, and ask how you can help.
kerkert@verizon.net

Contact information of officials for the township of Lonaconing:
Tell them you have an interest in the silk mill, and ask what can be done so save it.
Lonaconing Officials


























































~The Roof~








~Historical Images~






The following video was filmed by Christina and edited by the both of us.
It will be used by Preservation Maryland, along with my photos, to promote the mill to potential funders.
We truly hope that this place is saved...



Thank for looking everyone.
Please, spread the work however you can.
~Rusty

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Comments {43}

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blackswan72

(no subject)

from: blackswan72
date: Apr. 28th, 2011 05:44 am (UTC)
Link

Wow! Amazing! I hope it can be saved!

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Rusty Tagliareni

(no subject)

from: dark_fetus
date: Apr. 28th, 2011 04:25 pm (UTC)
Link

Thank you, I hope it can be saved as well.
Obviously, I will keep everyone here posted on any future events involving this mill.

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gwen666

(no subject)

from: gwen666
date: Apr. 28th, 2011 06:13 am (UTC)
Link

Amazing to see a workplace preserved for fifty years like the workers left yesterday. The owner is very brave.

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Rusty Tagliareni

(no subject)

from: dark_fetus
date: Apr. 28th, 2011 04:26 pm (UTC)
Link

It was actually closed over a single weekend, that's why everything is left as it is.

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fashuggah

(no subject)

from: fashuggah
date: Apr. 28th, 2011 06:15 am (UTC)
Link

Great shots!

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Rusty Tagliareni

(no subject)

from: dark_fetus
date: Apr. 28th, 2011 04:26 pm (UTC)
Link

Thanks.

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pickleboot

(no subject)

from: pickleboot
date: Apr. 28th, 2011 06:22 am (UTC)
Link

i will send an email tomorrow. as a knitter and spinner, i would love to see a place like this saved. i actually remember driving by this as a kid.

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Rusty Tagliareni

(no subject)

from: dark_fetus
date: Apr. 28th, 2011 04:28 pm (UTC)
Link

Thank you. Do what you can, and spread the word if possible.
As more people show interest, organizations will be more-easily swayed to fund the project.

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Ponee

(no subject)

from: featherfire
date: Apr. 28th, 2011 06:36 am (UTC)
Link

The image of that old man throwing bucketfuls of rainwater out a window all alone made me all misty-eyed.

These were great, but I think my favorite was the one with the mug and paperwork, just sitting there untouched since the late 50s. I don't think I can do much in the way of ... anything, but I hope this place can be saved!

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Rusty Tagliareni

(no subject)

from: dark_fetus
date: Apr. 28th, 2011 04:29 pm (UTC)
Link

It was very sad to see, as he was doing it while we were there filming.
I asked him if anyone ever helps him out, he said nobody has ever raised a finger to assist him.
He even has to pay to have a kid cut the tiny lawn out in front...

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synnie

(no subject)

from: synnoveaevael
date: Apr. 28th, 2011 06:39 am (UTC)
Link

beautiful... i hope your efforts work!

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Rusty Tagliareni

(no subject)

from: dark_fetus
date: Apr. 28th, 2011 04:29 pm (UTC)
Link

Me too!

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nightchild01

(no subject)

from: nightchild01
date: Apr. 28th, 2011 07:07 am (UTC)
Link

As a spinner, I hope this place can be saved. I will write them an email and promote this to my fiber-loving friends.

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Rusty Tagliareni

(no subject)

from: dark_fetus
date: Apr. 28th, 2011 04:30 pm (UTC)
Link

Thank you very much. Every bit of effort helps, and the more people who know the better.

Reply | Parent | Thread | Expand

Miss Mircea

(no subject)

from: missmircea
date: Apr. 28th, 2011 11:50 am (UTC)
Link

Love the Pic with the Clock

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Rusty Tagliareni

(no subject)

from: dark_fetus
date: Apr. 28th, 2011 04:31 pm (UTC)
Link

That clock really stamps a date on the place huh?

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(no subject)

from: sahlah
date: Apr. 28th, 2011 12:44 pm (UTC)
Link

As always your work is stunning.

I found the little cubbies with shoes and a picture frame to be a touching reminder of the lives lived through that space.

Thank you.

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Rusty Tagliareni

(no subject)

from: dark_fetus
date: Apr. 28th, 2011 04:31 pm (UTC)
Link

Very welcome. I really hope to see this place opened to the public someday.

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kpsp95

(no subject)

from: kpsp95
date: Apr. 28th, 2011 01:00 pm (UTC)
Link

Your shots are always amazing. Love the vantage points and angles you use. It gives the subject such depth. Make me feel like I am there. The places you visit have so much character. Thanks for sharing.

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Rusty Tagliareni

(no subject)

from: dark_fetus
date: Apr. 28th, 2011 04:32 pm (UTC)
Link

Much appreciated. These came out a bit bland on account of the dreary weather outside, but at the same time the ominous weather kind of set an appropriate tone.

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(Deleted comment)

Rusty Tagliareni

(no subject)

from: dark_fetus
date: Apr. 28th, 2011 04:34 pm (UTC)
Link

We try our best...
It's extremely rare to have the ability to shape the future of a building so close to death, so we are doing everything we can to promote it.

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atomgal

(no subject)

from: atomgal
date: Apr. 28th, 2011 01:55 pm (UTC)
Link

I too got all sad at the idea of one elderly man going in there every day to save this structure from the rain. I hope your excellent work will help its cause.

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Rusty Tagliareni

(no subject)

from: dark_fetus
date: Apr. 28th, 2011 04:35 pm (UTC)
Link

I hope so too. I feel awful for the old guy... at least he enjoyed us coming to film and promote it.
Being as we drove five hours to be there, it showed that people really do care about the place... and I think that helped him a bit.

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(no subject)

from: nehmet
date: Apr. 28th, 2011 03:51 pm (UTC)
Link

It's incredible that so many things remain intact there, and those images are somehow so poignant: workers' shoes in their little cubbies, a coffee mug, a calendar, a box of candy bars. I too was moved by the thought of that old man going there alone every day, trying to hold off the encroaching elements for just a little longer. Perhaps your loving documentation of this site will help make a difference in bringing about a wider effort to save it.

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Rusty Tagliareni

(no subject)

from: dark_fetus
date: Apr. 28th, 2011 04:37 pm (UTC)
Link

We can only hope. This is going to be one of those things where the right people have to see it...
Luckily Preservation Maryland is promoting it through their resources as well.

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pansypoo

(no subject)

from: pansypoo
date: Apr. 28th, 2011 06:16 pm (UTC)
Link

very cool. in milwaukee it would be condos. lot of our old buildings being converted.

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Rusty Tagliareni

(no subject)

from: dark_fetus
date: Apr. 28th, 2011 07:24 pm (UTC)
Link

I think the plan is make the bottom floor into office space, the rent from which will fund the preserved mill.
It's a good plan, in that offices tend to be quiet and not be much lower key than say, a strip mall or something...

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The Silver Wolf of Darkness

(no subject)

from: silvolf
date: Apr. 28th, 2011 10:51 pm (UTC)
Link

I always love your photos and videos. This is certainly an interesting place!

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Rusty Tagliareni

(no subject)

from: dark_fetus
date: Apr. 29th, 2011 04:32 pm (UTC)
Link

It's very unique in that all the equipment is just as it was when the place closed over fifty years ago...
Pretty amazing really.

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