February 21st, 2006


Chester Hide and Skin: Part I

Part I - The Exterior
Part II - Building 1
Part III - Building 2
Part IV - Building 3

hester, New York lies approximately 60 miles northwest of New York City. I was sent there by the company for whom I work to pick-up a load which was to be delivered at 5am the following morning in East Brunswick, NJ. I arrived around 3pm to discover that my load wouldn't be ready until 11pm. With considerable time to kill, my mind immediately turned to something I had seen on my drive into the industrial park. At the junction of highways 17 and 94 sat an immense and deserted plant. As I would soon learn, an abandoned meat-packing plant called Chester Hide and Skin.

Out of curiosity I Googled the name Matthew Dudgeon. He was a child from Chester who died in 2000 of a rare mitochondrial disease. His parents created a memorial fund to raise awareness and money and every May, a 7 kilometer charity walk begins at the Chester Train station. It appears the hand-painted advertisment on the wall of the meat-packing facility was from the 2003 walk, as that's the last time May 10th fell on a Saturday.

The facility is comprised of three buildings which are not interconnected. Additionally, it's apparent that they were likely built at varying times over the course of the property's history. Still further, it appears that each building has had various additions tacked upon them, resulting in a very unique set of lines when viewed in total.

For the purposes of this entry, I have numbered the buildings according the order in which I explored their interiors, just to keep it nice and simple in my head. Looking at the photograph above, Building 1 is in the foreground on the left with the truck dock. Building 2 is in the foreground on the right with the large collection tanks running along the outside of it. Building 3 is in the center and in the background of this photo, with the little windows near the roof. The oldest structure on the property appears to be Building 2. At least, part of it is. The section with the pitched roof and siding is a wood-frame building resting on a stone foundation.

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