Building 52, Anaconda Wire and Cable Company

Building 52, Anaconda Wire and Cable Company
Hastings-on-Hudson, NY

The last remaining building from the Anaconda Wire and Cable Company is again being considered for demolition. This weekend I was forwarded the following email which the mayor of Hastings-on-Hudson sent to village residents.

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This Tuesday’s (March 5, 2013) Board of Trustee meeting (7:30, Municipal Building) will focus discussion on two projects of some importance to our village. The first involves the future of the remaining structure on the waterfront (“Building 52″), and the second involves a proposed residential rental development on Saw Mill River Road (9A).

Building 52

The first item is a presentation by BP/Arco of their position on Building 52, the remaining large former industrial building located at the north end of the waterfront and right across from the bridge by the train station. This 110,000 square foot building, a classic sawtooth-roofed industrial space from the turn of the last century, covers two acres and has a long history in Hasting’s industrial past. A variety of industrial machines and items were manufactured there, including at least some of the wire insulation that is responsible for the severe PCB contamination of the waterfront property. This building is the last vestige of an industrial past that once covered the waterfront with a number of similar buildings that once provided jobs for thousands of workers.

Three years ago, when another rusted and compromised building, “Building 51″, was demolished as part of the beginning of the clean-up of the site, BP/Arco set aside $2,000,000 for the study and preservation of this remaining structure. In October 2012, the Board asked (here) that BP seek an estimate to the cost of what it would cost to safely “mothball” the building for the next eight years while the site was remediated with the hope that we could preserve it and possibly use it as part of the redevelopment of the waterfront. This cost estimate would be built on the basis of a engineering study done in 2010 that looked at the state of the building. There are a number of examples, ranging from the Dia Beacon museum to Fulton Street Seaport where large old buildings like this were beautifully restored and repurposed for modern use.

The cost estimate (here) stated that the required mothballing activities would run in excess of six million dollars, far more than the remaining monies from the original $2m set aside by BP/Arco. The study was sent with a cover letter from BP (here) indicating that they had no long-term plans for the building and that they were inclined to “…eliminate it to reduce liability, terminate ineffective annual maintenance, and to enhance effective remediation.” Building 52 (as well as the land under it, and the full responsibility for the clean-up), after all, belongs to BP/Arco. There’s no point for the Village to carry on dreaming future plans for a building whose full renovation costs the Village government does not intend to cover and which BP is inclined to demolish anyway. While we had some further questions about the estimate (here), we determined that the best way forward on Building 52 was to have BP speak to the issue directly and answer questions from the Board and the public.

BP’s presentation is first on the meeting agenda (after a presentation to retiring Bill Finkeldey). We expect it to begin around 8PM. The public is welcome and can ask questions once BP has finished their presentation.

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Should Building 52 be demolished it would be very unfortunate that not one building will be preserved to celebrate the industrial heritage of Hastings-on-Hudson nor to provide an attraction or anchor for a redeveloped waterfront. As noted in the mayor’s letter many former industrial buildings have been adaptively-reused and have become important elements in villages that have successfully transitioned from an industrial-economy to commercial/tourism-based economies. Just two villages north, at Irvington, the nearly-identical Lord and Burnham factory buildings were not demolished after the greenhouse and boiler manufacturer left the village but instead the brick buildings now house offices, restaurants, and warehouse space. At Beacon the former Nabisco box factory now houses the renowned DIA : Beacon art gallery.

Questions have arisen regarding the new six-million-dollar figure to preserve Building 52. Since there are no immediate plans to redevelop the property and since the building is not in imminent danger of collapse and it poses no threat to the public, this request for demolition should be delayed in order to ascertain the true cost of preservation and to generate an interest and commitment to the preservation of Building 52.

This was the Anaconda Wire and Cable site on October 12 2006. The southern half of the factory complex had just been demolished. Building 52 is the building at left with the “saw-tooth” roofline.

Research building, Building 51, and Building 52. October 14, 2006.

Building 51 and Building 52, later in the day. October 14, 2006.

The following on-the-fly photographs were taken December 19, 2006 on a tour led by staff from BP.

Photograph by Tom Rinaldi.

Photograph by Tom Rinaldi.

Photograph by Tom Rinaldi.

Photograph by Tom Rinaldi.

The following photographs are of the interior of the now-demolished Building 51.

Water tower and powerhouse:

Research building:

Observation room of the Research Building. I would liked to have taken more and better interior photographs here. I had hoped to return for a more thorough photography-oriented tour but that did not occur. My photographs from the December 2006 site tour here were taken with a now-ancient digital point-and-shoot camera. Some better images were recorded with a medium format camera but have not yet been scanned.

The Hastings Historical Society has uploaded some of their historic images of the Anaconda factory to their flickr page. Here are links to some of their images.

For more images of the Anaconda Wire and Cable Company at Hudson Valley Ruins, please visit Tom Rinaldi’s page and Rob Yasinsac’s page. See it also on the cover of our book.

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6 Responses to Building 52, Anaconda Wire and Cable Company

  1. Earl DePass says:

    This link opens a fact sheet that provides a project update for the Harbor at Hastings Site #360022 (Hastings-on-Hudson, Westchester County), under New York’s State Superfund Program:

  2. Cindy Blangeard says:

    My 96 year old neighbor retired from the “Anaconda.” She has many fond memories of her time there!

  3. Ronald Bishop says:

    My first job out of college was here in 1956. Hard to believe that so many people once earned a good living here. Assume most of those who I knew have passed away long ago.

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