Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Maas and Waldstein Company Factory

This complex of factory buildings in the North Broadway section of Newark Dates back to 1876, when Martin E. Waldstein & Adolphus H. Maas established a chemical plant along the banks of the Passaic River. 

They manufactured a large range of products, including lacquers, explosives, and specialized coatings. The factory seemed to be cursed, as it suffered numerous fires and explosions throughout its 114 year history. 

One severe explosion in 1915, in the "acid unit" caused 5 workers to be burned, one of which was 16 year old Louis Gizzone. Residents of the neighborhood reported their houses shaking after the explosion, its amazing nobody died. 

Improper lubrication of some of the machines on the eastern side of the property caused another large fire in 1919, a short 4 years after the explosion in the acid unit. This fire spread throughout 3 buildings, and caused a number of barrels of alcohol and benzene in the yard to explode. 

The facility recovered from the second fire, but it was only 9 years later in 1928 when another fire broke out. 5 boats and 25 firetrucks responded to the 3 alarm fire, which was in the area of 500 barrels of lacquer. 125 workers risked their lives in order to move the barrels away from the blaze, exponentially reducing the total damage to the complex. 

In 1944, the company added another 3 acres to the plant, in which they were developing a new lacquer for the military to use.

 Over the next couple decades, the company would shift its focus to mainly composing finishes for woods and metals, as well as synthetic resins and other such products. 

Despite the reduction of explosive materials manufactured at the plant, another fire broke out in 1975, which caused another explosion. By this time the company was on the decline,and it finally closed sometime around 1990. 

When the company left, they left behind over 300 barrels or corrosive, hazardous materials, as well as a large number of 50 gallon containers also containing hazardous substances. 

The containers were not immediately removed, but they were apparently stored inside one of the buildings. They were no longer there when I visited.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting these photos. A detailed history of Maas & Waldstein Co. is at my website