It ain't pretty being easy... (soopageek) wrote,
It ain't pretty being easy...

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.

It appears to have had a number of additions, most prominently the cement-block section on the end.

If you refer back to the first photo in this entry, you'll notice that this is also the end of the building which has the charity-walk advertisement. There has also been a somewhat smaller cement-block addition to the front of the original building.

Another two were added to other side, one made of poured concrete, the other of block. It brings the entire structure within a few feet of Building 3, between which a small, covered staircase resides, taking you back down to the rear of the buildings.

It's hard to see the staircase in the above photo. Here's a proper one from the bottom of the stairs.

uilding 1 appears to have been built in several stages as well. The main section of the building with the old truck docks was built in at least two stages, and gives some indication that it may have been three, judging from the brick.

There is also a storage shed and a bathroom with showers that have been tacked-on to Building 1. In the following photo, the doorway on the left-side of the photo is the entrance to the storage shed. The low building directly behind it is the bathroom, making it easily accessible to all three of the principal buildings.

uilding 3 is the largest of the group and was built in numerous stages, and as we'll see when we get inside the building, was probably the primary hub of operations for the plant. The most prominent feature of the building is the 3-4 story part of the structure which towers over the complex.

Like the other buildings, it has had numerous additions. Adjacent to the twin, tall box-like structures is another wooden structure with a pitched roof.

It's this part of the building that belies the property's function of dealing with livestock. My first guess, before noticing the business sign, was that it may have served as a regional stockyard at some point.

The super-high docking area is for the unloading of animals on-hoof from the upper deck of a livestock trailer, while directly beside it is one of normal height. Moving around to the other side, we see what looks like stockyards, essentially an open-air barn with hinged wall sections which can be raised during business hours or locked down at night.

Extending outward at a right-angle from the barn area is a more modern looking section of Building 3. It has typical shipping/receiving doors with dock plates and padded bumpers.

nd so concludes our tour of the plant's exterior. In coming days, we'll begin exploring the interior of all three buildings. I hope you enjoy it.

Tags: photo, travel

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