Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Rebuilding the Lost City: UPDATE

From Dave Brigham:

The most seriously blighted property I've written about is finally being demolished. For 70 years, the Haartz Mason factory in Watertown, MA, made roofing and auto-top fabrics, before closing in 1993. For the last 18 years, the site has been a haven for vandals, graffiti artists and homeless people.

I posted pictures of the site last summer (see July 5, 2010, "Rebuilding the Lost City") and speculated that a future developer would include retail space on the property. According to the Watertown Tab, Criterion Development Partners plans two apartment buildings on the lot, along with retail space and a parking garage.

I often jog on the bike path directly behind the property, and have long been fascinated by the state of ruin at this old factory. Now, with the demolition in full swing, I'm equally fascinated by the amount of graffiti on display inside the buildings. I'm sure the demolition and clean up will go on for quite some time, given that Haartz Mason made coated fabrics, which I suspect means loads and loads of chemicals in the soil.

I'll post more updates as this new project gets under way. I'm excited that this blighted stretch of Pleasant Street will soon have new, vibrant life.

Haartz-Mason Demo #1

Haartz-Mason Demo #2

Haartz-Mason Demo #3

Haartz-Mason Demo #4

Haartz-Mason Demolition #7

Haartz-Mason Demolition #6

Haartz-Mason Demolition #8

Haartz-Mason Demo #5

(The one site that may be more blighted and polluted than this one is the former Watertown Arsenal munitions burning facility. The extent of the mess at that site is difficult to gauge from the road. See May 19, 2010, "Nuclear Dump Playground?")


  1. Well I hope you get something more useful than a sprawling ruin. The shot of the windows and the branch with leaves is pretty great.

  2. The place isn't fully demolished yet, but it's getting close. The way the markets are these days, it's quite possible that this place will be a cleared-out wasteland for a while, with graffiti-covered buildings replaced by weed-choked vacant lots. I can dream though.

  3. I have fond memories of visiting this factory before it was demo'd. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  4. I was just cleaning out my catch all hardware drawers and came about an old box marked HAARTZ-MASON Inc. Paramount Fiction Tape 3/4 Inch x Length 30 Feet, 4 ounces.
    This was in the original box and I think I acquired this as my father owned a drug store in the 40's thru the 60 's and it had in his handwriting $ .50 marked on the box. I became intrigued about this company and googled them and found they were in business from 1923 thru 1993.
    Anyone interested in acquiring this item please e-mail at

  5. Thanks for posting. I'm unclear: what is Paramount Fiction Tape?"

  6. Dave, I took some pictures of this item. My mistake it is " Paramount Friction tape"

    What is your e-mail address?


  7. I used to drive by this place when it was in business; in an area prone to unemployment they provided manufacturing jobs and made a useful product for years. Now it's going to be yuppie apartments for think-tank potheads--before their jobs get exported elsewhere. Have a heart for hard-working people producing useful coated fabrics; surprising that the business lasted so long.