The Factory and the Village

The Factory and the Village (HM1JPS)

Location: Marcus Hook, PA 19061 Delaware County
Buy Pennsylvania State flags at!
Country: United States of America
Buy United States of America flags at!

N 39° 49.303', W 75° 24.719'

  • 0 check ins
  • 0 favorites

The American Viscose Company in Marcus Hook

Best known as the company that developed "artificial silk," later known as "rayon," the American Viscose Company began construction of its Marcus Hook operation in 1912. Patented by English chemists in 1894, rayon was used extensively for both commercial and military applications. The term "viscose" refers to the organic liquid used to make rayon, which is viscous, or much thicker than water. The Marcus Hook factory was the first North American operation of Viscose.
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.
(Inscription below the drawing in the center) 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.
Viscose Village
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, ca. 1912 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.
Placed ByIndustrial Heritage Parkway, Delaware County, Pennsylvania
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, March 21st, 2015 at 9:02am PDT -07:00
Sorry, but we don't have a picture of this historical marker yet. If you have a picture, please share it with us. It's simple to do. 1) Become a member. 2) Adopt this historical marker listing. 3) Upload the picture.
Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 464741 N 4408050
Decimal Degrees39.82171667, -75.41198333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 49.303', W 75° 24.719'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 49' 18.18" N, 75° 24' 43.14" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)610, 484
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 400-498 US-13, Marcus Hook PA 19061, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

Is this marker missing? Are the coordinates wrong? Do you have additional information that you would like to share with us? If so, check in.

Check Ins  check in   |    all

Have you seen this marker? If so, check in and tell us about it.

Comments 0 comments

Maintenance Issues
  1. Is this marker part of a series?
  2. What historical period does the marker represent?
  3. What historical place does the marker represent?
  4. What type of marker is it?
  5. What class is the marker?
  6. What style is the marker?
  7. Does the marker have a number?
  8. What year was the marker erected?
  9. This marker needs at least one picture.
  10. Can this marker be seen from the road?
  11. Is the marker in the median?