United Lacquer Manufacturing Corporation

Looming over 2.72 acres, adjacent to the bustling Amtrak and New Jersey Transit lines, the desolate skeleton of the United Lacquer Manufacturing Corporation once stood. Now reduced to rubble, the echoes of its past cling stubbornly to the air. This trio of structures, variegated in height from one to three stories, once bustled with the production of lacquers, varnishes, and enamels. For 15 to 20 years, however, they were consigned to silence, abandonment, and ruin. This forsaken property was regularly subjected to a grim cycle of fires and illegal dumping, underscoring its tragic trajectory of decline.

The land’s history, as told by the city of Linden, reads like a litany of chemical contamination from multiple manufacturers, and of a previous owner disappearing into the ether, leaving behind a weighty tax burden. Unsurprisingly, the city eventually lost patience with this bleak tableau of human-initiated fires and neglect. As a consequence, the ownership was transferred via condemnation to a development company.

burned out linden nj factory building

Soon, this once forlorn location will pulse with the hum of daily life, home to 402 dwellers. Meridia 1001 Linden LLC has brought forward plans to transform the space at 1001 West Elizabeth Ave. Their blueprint envisions 402 residential units, alongside amenities, ground-floor retail, and a management office. The proposal doesn't stop at bricks and mortar but extends to encompass the gentler aesthetics of landscaping, lighting, and parking facilities.

In the years of its dereliction, I remember the site being all too accessible, its gate yawning open without a hint of a deterrent. It was a magnet for misadventures, its neglect arguably stoking the fires that intermittently blazed there. The grimy interior was a cocktail of domestic and construction waste, while the largest building bore the visceral scars of fire damage. Blackened wooden beams, warped into charcoal, lay strewn across the rusted metal floor. The pockmarked roof, perforated with gaping holes, threatened to cave under the weight of collapsed supports, reduced to gnarled clusters of wood and twisted metal.

In contrast, the second building managed to retain some vestiges of respectability. It seemed to have been commandeered by skateboarders, its smooth concrete floors and makeshift wooden ramps suggesting a new, illicit lease of life. Another part of the property was less fortunate. It was reduced to a mangled fusion of roofing tiles and window panes, a grim testimony to the raging fires.

In an older post titled "Chemical X Warehouse", I've shared more images that capture this evocative landscape of urban decay. Soon, the narrative of this plot will change again, this time for the better. As we bear witness to its transformation, we remember the layers of history it's seen and the potential that lies ahead.


1. Russel, Suzanne, "Redevelopment planned for Linden warehouse damaged in fire", my central jersey, February 16, 2017

2. Loyer, Susan, "Linden: Mixed-use project may be coming to West Elizabeth Avenue", my central jersey, January 7, 2020

3. Lati, Marisa, "Fire at abandoned Linden warehouse called suspicious", NJ.com, February 18, 2017


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