|City/Town: • Stephens|
|Location Class: • Commercial • Industrial|
|Built: • 1950's | Abandoned: • 1985, 1998|
|Status: • Abandoned • For Sale|
|Photojournalist: • Michael Schwarz • Jared Holt|
There are times when buildings and structures come to resemble the human beings that made them, and sometimes this comes to pass in ways that might be seen as surprising. As people, we go through many changes throughout the course of our lives. We start out with ambitions, we pursue them to the best of our ability, and things may go quite well for a while. In time unforeseen circumstances and changes always seem to arise, however, and we find ourselves have to question our directions and missions and perhaps even crashing and burning all together. Forced into changing our pursuits and on rare occasions starting over all together, we rebuild ourselves, we restructure who we are, we adjust our lives to our new circumstances, and we start over. We begin again afresh, with a renewed sense of purpose, and determined to make the most of this new start and the fresh opportunities that we see before us. And this facet of life tends to be cyclical – with some people more than others. How frequently do we find ourselves having to make “course corrections” as we go through life? How many times do we need to start over?
And here is a very strong way in which the buildings that we make can come to resemble the human beings that made them – and this structure in particular. Originally being built and opening in 1956 as “Elk Roofing,” the plant started out strong, continued to be very profitable, and went on to become a highly successful business. When H.L. Arrington – the plant’s builder and owner – passed away in 1972 his surviving family members sold the plant to the Elk Corporation, however, and the plant continued to do well enough for a good while, too. Corporations tend to lack the fire, drive, and commitment of dedicated individuals, though, and eventually the plant fell upon hard times. The board members of the corporation eventually deemed it unprofitable and not worthy of further investment and in 1985 they ceased operations, shuttered the building, closed it down, and left the once successful family business completely abandoned.
Life and purpose returned to the aging structure in 1991 when the striker Paper Company purchased the facility. They renovated the aging building, they refitted it with all new factory and production equipment, and once again a small army of busy workers descended back down upon the plant in multiple shifts. This new business lacked the consistency and level of success that H.L. Arrington’s original family-run and operated business had enjoyed over thirty years earlier, though. Business steadily rose up and down in a rollercoaster ride of profits that eventually bottomed out to the point that the owners of the new business once again deemed it unworthy of further investment, closed down the plant, walked away, and left it abandoned once more just 8 years after having reopened it.
The building continues to sit shuttered and unoccupied today just as it has every day since its last closure back in 1991. It can’t really be said to be “empty,” however, as the interior of the structure remains in very much the exact same state just as it was when the last employee turned out the lights and walked out the door on its final day of operation. Production equipment, furniture, fixtures, wall hangings, memos, office supplies, records…it all sits quietly waiting and patiently determined to to be given a fresh purpose and to be allowed to become a productive facility yet again, and the local police patrol it frequently as other neighboring businesses and nearby residents keep a caring eye trained upon it, determined to safe guard and protect the vacant building until the day rolls back around when it’s once again called into use.
Because the building knows – it knows that if it simply waits long enough that people will come back to it once more and that they will breath new life back into it yet again . Yes, the building knows…
Video of Striker Paper Co. available on sidebar or Click Here
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