Friday, August 19, 2016

More Views of the Former Bristol Complex, Waterbury, CT

Exterior views of former Bristol Babcock complex
Ruins of main building
I have already written two posts on this industrial ruin. It is sad to report that the former Bristol Babcock complex is beyond salvage. I explored further than I had previously, and found that decay and fire have ravaged the interior of many of the buildings. The main building is basically a shell of brick looming over a field of rubble and charred timbers. It is an unfortunate end for what was once a world-renowned Waterbury company that housed the lab where the first sound motion picture was manufactured.

Building interiors
More exterior views

Return to Former American Brass Complex, Waterbury, CT

Former rolling mill views
My second trip to the former American Brass complex took me beyond the Crane Street building to a building located on Freight Street that was once a brass rolling mill but last used by Environmental Waste Resources, a company that handled contaminated soil and other hazardous wastes. The American complex was constructed in 1910 and brass production at the site lasted until the late 1970s. In 1982, EWR was charged with dumping tons of waste into the Naugatauck River and Waterbury sewer system. Since they vacated the former American Brass complex, the site has been very underutilized. As far as I can tell, part of the rolling mill is used as a warehouse but the majority is vacant. I was able to explore at my leisure. My further investigation of the Crane Street building suggested that EWR used it as office space. Rotting floors and hordes of bees prevented me from getting a better look. My conversations with area planners confirmed my visual assessment of the Freight Street corridor as a truly forlorn place. Despite being close to Interstate 84, the area lacks direct access to points west, a sticking point for anyone interested in redeveloping the neighborhood for commercial use. In the meantime, the former American Brass complex languishes, open to all who are curious enough to step inside.

Views of Crane Street building
More views of former rolling mill

Monday, August 8, 2016

Former New Departure Oil Tank Farm, Bristol, CT

Views of oil tank farm showing tanks and pipeline (photos by Max A.C.)
New Departure was a manufacturing firm in Bristol, Connecticut that was established in 1889. Their principle products were ball bearings for the auto industry and New Departure operated as a subsidiary of General Motors from 1916 to 1986. The process of manufacturing ball bearings required a large amount of lubricant and on the hillside behind the New Departure complex lies an abandoned oil tank farm. There are three large vertical tanks that look like water towers and a couple of smaller horizontal tanks. They are connected via steel pipes. The oil was routed through a pumphouse prior to being transported to the factory complex. The ruins of the pumphouse remain as well as the pipelines and their supporting structures.

Views of pumphouse (photos by Max A.C>)
I visited the site with my stepson Max who took the photos that accompany this post. A link to his photography website can be found at the bottom of this page. Max and I hiked from the Birge Pond trail system to the oil tank farm via a short but steep trail. The tank farm complex is surrounded by a fence but the gate was open when we arrived. All structures were covered with graffiti and there was a homeless encampment on the site that was vacant when we explored the area. The tank farm lies on a hillside with two tanks being higher than the others. The pumphouse and smaller tanks sit beside the rail line that separates the tank farm from the former New Departure complex. In my opinion, the final pipeline from the pumphouse to the factory complex ran underground beneath the tracks.

For more photos of abandoned sites and other curiosities check out Max A.C. Photography.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Return to Winchester Arms, New Haven, CT


Winchester interiors
While the majority of Connecticut residents live in the comparatively affluent suburbs, a fair proportion (myself included) call the urban core home. Conditions vary greatly between neighborhoods, from quiet residential districts to ghettos characterized by blight and crime. It is in the latter that many factory complexes decay in silence. Out of necessity, I usually explore alone. I always feel some level of trepidation upon entering a building, you never know who or what you will encounter inside. In most instances, I have a gut feeling that I will be alone in the complex. I primarily explore on Sunday mornings or midday during the week. Sometimes, I am uncertain as to whether or not I will meet up with one or more of the underclass that frequent abandoned buildings, scavengers, the homeless and drug addicts. The Capehart Mill in Norwich gave me the greatest sense of disquiet. In order to access that complex, you must pass through a two-story structure that is remarkable for its darkness. It truly feels like threading the needle, a moment of uncertainty and a palpable relief upon making it through unscathed. The Winchester Arms complex has a secret entrance located on the second story of one of the buildings. It is the only way in that does not involve climbing a fence and attracting unwanted attention. I happened upon it by accident and quickly seized the opportunity. The relative paucity of graffiti clued me in to the fact that many did not come this way despite its location in the urban core of New Haven. Thus, I felt at ease as I explored. I felt like the proverbial kid in a candy store. The place is vast, with much to check out. The buildings have held up well. The complex was completely abandoned in 2006 but portions have sat vacant for longer periods of time.

Winchester exteriors
View of powerhouse
Machinery view
The Winchester Arms complex consists of a square of five-story buildings, a two-story building through which I accessed the complex, a three-story building that has partially collapsed, and a small powerhouse. The Winchester complex in New Haven's greatest ruin and one of the largest in Connecticut in terms of square footage. I intend to further research the history of the site. The surrounding area is being gentrified and a portion of the complex has been repurposed as the Winchester Lofts apartments. Other industrial buildings in the vicinity were redeveloped as part of Yale's Science Park project and converted into research labs and office space. The days of the existing Winchester ruins are numbered. They are quite close to the Yale campus. In fact, Yale's Marsh Botanical Gardens sit on Mansfield Street directly across from the abandoned section of the complex. The situation in my current hometown of New Haven is one that Waterbury envies. In the place of my birth, the former Brass City, numerous ruins languish. Check out my older posts discussing the Bristol, American Brass, Risdon, Anamet, Waterbury Companies, and Virjune ruins for another look at post-industrial Connecticut.
Interior of westernmost structure showing puddle of water from leaking roof
Powerhouse interior
Machinery view, Mansfield Street building
Locker room door, Mansfield Street building
View over courtyard from three-story building
Electrical panel in two-story building

Signs and doors
Interior of collapsed building
More interior views
View of West Rock from Mansfield Street building