Images of this Property
27 images: Press to view larger or scroll sideways to see more. Contributions by Google Streetview, Brown University Digital Archives, and David Lawlor, aka Run of the Mill
About this Property
This is the first collaboration with photographer and drone operator David Lawlor, who captured these beautiful images during demolition. Visit his site for a video reel of the demolition as it was in progress.
#Reason for Demolition
Corning Glass Works has a history in Central Falls that goes back to 1924 at a portion of this Broad Street plant. Much of the original mills were located on the northern side of the property at the corner of Hunt and Broad Streets and Hunt and High Streets and expanded at this location with steel-frame warehouse structures to the south.
Aerial photos from 1939 (use a 1193 Broad Street Central Falls location) show the northern side of the property and small low buildings across Hunt Street, much like the Sanborn Map from 1923. Aerial photos at this location show a progressive increase of buildings around this main structure.
In 1959, Sylvania Electric Products merged into General Telephone and was renamed to General Telephone & Electronics Corporation (GT&E) and later simplified their name to GTE.1 Around 1986, GTE Products Corporation purchased the Corning Glass Site.2 GTE sold the Sylvania lighting division to the German Siemens AG in 1993, and it was hereafter referred to as “Osram-Sylvania.”3
For much of the 90s, the plant enjoyed expansion and reinvestment. A $10 million expansion of the plant with an additional 45 jobs was announced in 1994. A Journal article called Osram-Sylvania “the single largest employer in Central Falls” and went on to describe its manufacture as “a maker of lightbulbs and giftware” and of “high-intensity discharge lamps — long-life, energy-efficient bulbs used for street and stadium lighting.”4
A few fires made headlines as well, as one might imagine when dealing with the high voltage power required for the manufacture of glass products and the 1200° temperatures required to melt glass. At its height, it seems that Osram-Sylvania employed up to 550 people.5 At the end in 2014, only 88 were left to lose their jobs when the plant closed.
The end came as the demand for traditional incandescent lighting waned as more and more municipalities, businesses, and homes moved to modern energy-efficient lighting like incandescent and LED. The final announcement of this plant’s closure came with closures to similar facilities in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.
The property was sold in 2020 and by 2021 plans to demolish half of the buildings on the property started to move forward. The facility is not made of the kind of mill stock that converts easily to housing as they were comprised of wide, tall, open spaces to allow room for large equipment. Contamination at the site was likely, but no reports we have read mention specific clean-ups needed at the site.
We will keep our eyes out for new developments here, which may include housing as well as a tractor-trailer distribution facility.
From the RIHPHC Survey of Central Falls, 1978
During the first decade of the twentieth century, the Bryan Marsh Company introduced a new industry to Central Falls, glass manufacture. From 1913, the parent company of Bryan Marsh, General Electric, produced lightbulbs in the old Stafford mill and in its new mill on Roosevelt Avenue. The glass industry, which continues to be an essential part of the city’s economy, is today carried on by Corning Glass Works. Since 1924, when Corning began the manufacture of various glass products including tubing and blownware, a number of major additions have been made to the Broad Street plant […]
1169–1223: Corning Glass Works: 1937, 1966, 1969, 1223 1972. This sprawling industrial plant was constructed in various stages. At its core is a 3-story, flat-roofed brick mill with single-story extensions and steel-frame additions. Corning Glass is now the major employer in Central Falls. The manufacture of glassware continues an industry begun by Bryan Marsh in the early 20th century. The factory was built on the site of several large houses, including that of Elizabeth Buffum Chace, the prominent abolitionist and feminist, and her husband, Samuel B. Chace, one of the leading industrialists of the 19th century in Central Falls whose Valley Falls Mill still stands at the north end of Broad Street.
Not many sources include maps of Central Falls. We were able to find two, and an earlier source does not include this area of Broad Street at Hunt.
- 1923 Sanborn Insurance Map, Pawtucket/Central Falls, Volume 2C, Plate 294 — The first building if the complex was part of the entire lifecycle. Located along Hunt Street adjacent to the train tracks, this large structure is labelled “Rhode Island Glass division of General Electric.” The main building is 2-3 stories with stock room, machine shop, and blowing room. A smaller fire-proof area is likely where the melting furnaces were. Notice “Chaces Lane” as a through-road between High and Broad Streets, very likely named for Elizabeth and Samuel Chace. Collection of the Brown University Digital Archives
- While the write-up from 1978 mentions the earliest date of construction at 1937, we wonder if they were aware of an earlier possible date (such as this 1923 map would indicate) or if they considered this building too heavily modified to have been considered an original structure.
#In the News
Company closure a “significant” loss to city
by Kate Bramsom
Providence Journal | March 21, 2014 (abridged)
As news spreads that the city’s third-highest property taxpayer, Osram Sylvania, will close its lighting-manufacturing facility in September, Mayor James A. Diossa said Thursday he is working to lessen the impact of this “significant” loss in the small city.
The company told employees Wednesday that 88 people at the Central Falls location are among 345 in all who will be affected by the closure of three facilities, spokeswoman Anne Guertin told The Providence Journal. The company will also close facilities in Manchester, N.H., and York, Pa., she said.
Osram Sylvania is a lighting fixtures manufacturer headquartered in Danvers, Mass., employing about 6,500 people. It’s the North American operation of Osram GmbH in Munich, Germany, which employs 35,000 people worldwide, Guertin said. When positions elsewhere in the company open up, Guertin said the company will make a concerted effort to tell let-go workers of the jobs.
The company plans to sell its Central Falls manufacturing facility at 1193 Broad St., Guertin said. […]
In a company statement, Osram Sylvania said declining sales for traditional lighting products have affected its manufacturing locations. […]
The financial impact of the closure won’t immediately be felt, city solicitor Matt Jerzyk said, because the company’s taxes for this current fiscal year are due before the plant’s anticipated closure.
Osram Sylvania’s property tax bill is $138,000, and the company is current with its payments, Jerzyk said. The company owes an additional $25,000 this year in “tangible taxes,” based on the value of its equipment, he said. The next tax bill, to be mailed out on July 1, will be based on the equipment value at the end of 2013, so sale of that equipment wouldn’t be reflected until the tax bill that’s due by mid-2016, he said. […]
— BRAMSON, KATE. “Central falls | Company closure a ‘significant’ loss to city.” Providence Journal (RI), 1 ed., sec. News, 21 Mar. 2014, p. MAIN_06. NewsBank: America’s News, https://infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/openurl?ctx_ver=z39.88-2004&rft_id=info%3Asid/infoweb.newsbank.com&svc_dat=NewsBank&req_dat=D4BD6B42F1AB4706B5E1244D477DEE03&rft_val_format=info%3Aofi/fmt%3Akev%3Amtx%3Actx&rft_dat=document_id%3Anews/15241E8076163100. Accessed 11 June 2023.
Demolition at Osram Sylvania property preparing for future facility
by Zack Deluca
Valley Breeze | March 30, 2022 (abridged)
[…] According to Mayor Maria Rivera, the portion of the property being cleared now, abutting the Louis Yip Soccer Field, is planned to be parking for the future distribution center. The facility won’t take up the entire property, she said, so there are conversations ongoing about what should be done with the rest of it. Rivera said she would love to see mixed-use development there, including perhaps professional space on the first floor and apartments above.
The factory, which spans 12 acres and manufactured lighting products, closed in 2014 and 88 people lost their jobs as a result. Phoenix Investors LLC announced its purchase of the property at 1154-1159 Broad St. from LEDVANCE in 2020. In October 2021, it was reported that a Milwaukee commercial real estate firm planned to demolish part of the old factory to construct a new warehouse-distribution facility.
Assistant Director of Planning and Economic Development Jim Vandermillen said Phoenix gained conditional approval for its demolition plan from the city planning board last October. Additionally, the company was to meet with the Zoning Board of Review in November for consideration of special use permits.
At that time, developers said they planned to build a parking lot for tractor-trailers at the 85 Hunt St. property, which is now actively being razed. The rest of the demolition project will remove at least a third of the existing building on the north side. This will be replaced with a 90,000-square-foot building.
In 2020, LEDVANCE won a $50,000 site readiness grant from the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation to support engineering analysis for potential demolition. According to reports, Central Falls also secured $20,000 to unlock a $286,000 planning grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
— Captured 10 June 2023 from https://www.valleybreeze.com/archives/demolition-at-osram-sylvania-property-preparing-for-future-facility/article_d4f6f3d6-aea9-11ec-b9db-87e1a5fbe7ef.html
Central Falls seeks housing deal with downtown warehouse developers; federal money could be on tap
by Mary Serreze
Providence Business First | July 28, 2022 (abridged)
[…] [N]egotiations are underway that could also deliver housing and commercial space at the former Osram-Sylvania plant at 1154-1159 Broad St.
U.S. Rep. David Cicilinne announced Friday that $20 million in a House-passed spending bill would support 11 Rhode Island projects, including $2.6 million for community-centered economic development on a section of the old factory complex.
The funds could help Central Falls acquire two acres of the 12-acre site and support the development of housing, some commercial space, and public amenities, Cicilline said in a news release. The support would come from H.R. 8294, a wide-ranging fiscal 2023 appropriations package.
Central Falls is Rhode Island’s “most economically disadvantaged community,” and the federal funds aim to support much-needed economic development, Cicilline stated.
Thomas Deller — the city’s planning and economic development director — confirmed Wednesday that Central Falls has crafted a vision statement for 110 housing units in three buildings on the site, with ground floor commercial space on Broad Street.
However, he said due to the ongoing nature of negotiations, he does not yet have a formal agreement to share with the public.
The city is in preliminary discussions with a potential partner developer for the site, Deller said in an email. The city is also working to assemble financing.
“At this time, the city is pursuing funding to purchase a portion of the Osram site so that we can develop needed housing,” Deller told Business First. “Developing additional housing units in Central Falls is a top priority of Mayor Maria Rivera’s and the city.” […]
Central Falls is pleased to see revitalization at the site, assistant planning director Jim Vandermillen told Business First last fall. At the time, he said the city was working with Phoenix to add greater community benefit to the mix.
On its website, the national real estate investment firm touts its civic relationships says its primary business model “promotes economic growth in communities struggling after the closure of a major industrial employer.”
Phoenix has been marketing its Central Falls project online as a “large contiguous warehouse space in densely populated region.”
Phoenix was founded in 1994 by Frank P. Crivello, a graduate of Brown University and the London School of Economics. Crivello would not be available for comment this week because he’s traveling, a representative for the company said on Monday.
“We have already acquired four of LEDvance’s former plants and are successfully repositioning those plants,” Crivello said in a November 2020 news release.
— Captured 11 June 11 2023 from https://www.bizjournals.com/rhodeisland/news/2022/07/28/osram-sylvania-warehouse-housing.html
“GTE Corporation.” Wikipedia, captured 11 June 2023 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GTE ↩
Merely a guess. This is when obituaries started to mention Corning Glass Works as “GTE, formerly Corning Glass Works” in the Public-library accessible Providence Journal archives. ↩
BROGAN, JAN. “Bulb maker to expand 45 more jobs promised in Central Falls.” Providence Journal (RI), ALL ed., sec. BUSINESS, 16 Nov. 1994, pp. C-01. NewsBank: America’s News, https://infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/openurl?ctx_ver=z39.88-2004&rft_id=info%3Asid/infoweb.newsbank.com&svc_dat=NewsBank&req_dat=D4BD6B42F1AB4706B5E1244D477DEE03&rft_val_format=info%3Aofi/fmt%3Akev%3Amtx%3Actx&rft_dat=document_id%3Anews/1525224FF30AAE50. Accessed 11 June 2023. ↩
DAVIS, MARION. “Works resumes after fire at Osram Sylvania plant.” Providence Journal (RI), BLACKSTONE VALLEY ed., sec. NEWS, 9 June 1995, pp. C-03. NewsBank: America’s News, https://infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/openurl?ctx_ver=z39.88-2004&rft_id=info%3Asid/infoweb.newsbank.com&svc_dat=NewsBank&req_dat=D4BD6B42F1AB4706B5E1244D477DEE03&rft_val_format=info%3Aofi/fmt%3Akev%3Amtx%3Actx&rft_dat=document_id%3Anews/15252210CECE7B48. Accessed 11 June 2023. ↩