The Factory and the Village
The American Viscose Company in Marcus Hook
The American Viscose Company hired the prominent Philadelphia architectural firm of Ballinger & Perrot to design not only their factory, but also the nearby village and other employee amenities. The large brick building across the street from the plaza was originally designed as the dining hall and recreation center for employees (see drawing below). It was later expanded to become the company’s administration building, though the remnants of the original design can still be identified in the building’s center portion.
The company expanded significantly to supply fabric for military products such as parachutes during World War II. In the 1950s, production shifted at the factory from rayon to cellophane. Though the factory ceased operations in 1977, many original company buildings, including the village, remain intact today.
Above: The American Viscose Company complex originally consisted of the factory (lower left corner), employee dining hall/recreation building (bottom center), and the sprawling industrial village. A half-circle shaped public plaza was provided on 10th Street between the dining hall and the village.
(Inscription in the lower right)
Right: This postcard, mailed in 1925, shows the American Viscose Co. Factory complex.
It was very common for manufacturers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries to construct housing for their workers close to factories. While in most cases these residents were plain brick rowhouses, Ballinger & Perrot wanted to design an “industrial village” for Viscose employees that was self-sustaining, inexpensive and attractive. The result, commonly known as “Viscose Village”, was inspired by English factory villages. The 20-acre site originally contained 215 dwellings, two boarding houses and a village store. The community was built complete with paved roads, sewers, back yards and landscaping, setting it apart from ordinary factory housing. As individual home ownership became the norm, the company sold the residences to private owners starting in 1949.
Above: Ballinger & Perrot’s rendering of the completed village.
Below left: Village housing under construction,
Below Right: A completed row of houses consisting of six units. Postcard courtesy of the Keith Lockhart Collection. All other images courtesy of the Ballinger & Perrot Collection, Athenmum of Philadelphia.
Erected by Industrial Heritage Parkway, Delaware County, Pennsylvania.
Location. 39° 49.303′ N, 75° 24.719′ W. Marker is in Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania, in Delaware County. Marker is on East 10th Street (US 13). Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Marcus Hook PA 19061, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. American Viscose Co. (a few steps from this marker); Marcus Hook World War I Memorial (approx. 0.3 miles away); Marcus Hook World War II Veterans (approx. 0.3 miles away); James B. ‘Mickey’ Vernon (approx. 0.3 miles away); Marcus Hook (approx. 0.4 miles away); The Soldier and Sailor Walk Memorial (approx. half a mile away); Mary Gillis Troost (approx. half a mile away); Marcus Hook First Ward Veterans Memorial (approx. half a mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Marcus Hook.
Categories. • Industry & Commerce • War, World II •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on March 20, 2015, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 225 times since then and 15 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on March 20, 2015, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.