Williamsport Architecture, Historic Pennsylvania Building, US Rubber Factory

Williamsport, Pennsylvania

Historic Building – former rubber factory complex: Architectural Column by Joel Solkoff, PA, USA

Mar 11, 2019

Joel Solkoff’s Column Vol. V, Number 1

Architectural Column Vol. V, Number 1 by Joel Solkoff, PA, USA

Writing on architects plus their role in the imminent/now-already-here global Baby Boom housing crisis

Architecture in Williamsport, Pennsylvania

Welcome to the US Editorial Offices of e-architect in Williamsport PA.

In 1870, Williamsport had more millionaires per capita than anyplace on earth. The money came from lumber and the close proximity to the Susquehanna River.

Williamsport is the leading city in central Pennsylvania which has the port city of Philadelphia on its eastern border. In 1776, Thomas Jefferson, who later became the third President of the United States wrote the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia which announced to King George III “When in the course of human events it becomes necessary or one people to dissolve the pollical bonds which have connected them…”

House on Millionaires Row Williamsport, Pennsylvania:
House Millionaires Row Williamsport Pennsylvania
photo Courtesy Joel Solkoff

On the western border of Pennsylvania is Pittsburgh once the center of world steel production now a city undergoing a renaissance as an environmentally friendly center where art thrives and where Andy Warhol’s Museum is located.

Disparagers of central Pennsylvania are fond of quoting President Clinton’s political adviser James Carville who said of Pennsylvania, “There is Philadelphia on one end, Pittsburgh on the other and Alabama in between.” [The reference to Alabama is meant to disparage the state which still retains the reputation of being the home of backwardness despite the fact that recently the Dalai Lama went to its capital of Montgomery to teach the state’s world-famous cardiologists about meditation.]

The environmental riches of central Pennsylvania are responsible for much of the US’s early wealth. The Rockefellers made their fortune from the Commonwealth’s petroleum and indeed the current oil shale boom is pouring badly needed money into Williamsport which since World War II has experience hard times. Very hard ties.

The US offices of e-architect are located in a ten-building rubber factory complex completed during World War I. Rubber manufacturing came to the area after the lumber barons despoiled the environment, destroying the forests and creating flooding problems that continue to plague Williamsport. Williamsport is located in Lycoming County. Lycoming County is named for its creek and is a corruption of an Iraqi Native American word meaning, “Sandy stream.” Lycoming Creek

Williamsport buildings, Pennsylvania:
Williamsport building Pennsylvania USA
image Courtesy Joel Solkoff

At the end of the 19th Century, Williamsport, having exhausted its forests turned to industrialization for its wealth and so the Lycoming Rubber Company created the complex that is now a US National Historical Monument where e-architect has its US office. The architecture represents the brilliance of the US industrial architects of which Detroit’s Albert Kahn, Henry Ford’s architect, is the most famous example.

When the Great Depression hit in 1929, the Lycoming Rubber Company closed its doors. The factory was later taken over by a manufacturer of pajamas. The site became famous in the 1950s and 1950s as its location for the Broadway play turned motion picture the Pajama Game. The Pajama Game was the story of a labor strike when union workers demonstrated for an hourly wage increase  seven and a half cents. Doris Day became a star as a consequence of singing this song: The Pajama Game – 71/2 Cents

In 2008 architect Mark and advertising executive Suzanne Winkelman established the then empty factory complex where it is now a real estate residential and business complex focused on fostering artistic, engineering, and software creativity.


Erratum: In the video, Joel Solkoff incorrectly states the Leslie Richards is Secretary of Interior. She is the Pennsylvania Secretary of Transportation where she is responsible for the state’s roads. Solkoff is critical of her emphasis on automobile transportation to the detriment of water, rail, and bus transportation.

Film on YouTube


My editors beckon: “All right, stop writing, Joel.”

Isabelle Lomholt and Adrian Welch, Editors at e-architect

“Good night and good luck,” as Greensboro, North Carolina born Edward R. Morrow, my hero, used to say.


Copyright © 2019 by Joel Solkoff. All rights reserved.

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Comments / photos for the Architecture in Williamsport, Pennsylvania – page welcome

Website: Williamsport, Pennsylvania