Former Anamet Manufacturing Complex

 

Interior of an abandoned industrial workshop with rusted machinery, scattered debris, and graffiti on walls, illuminated by natural light from large windows.



Anamet Inc



I recall my ventures through Anamet vividly. A breach in the fence was our gateway into this forgotten realm, leading us straight to the old powerhouse. The front office building and the rolling mill eluded our exploration. I believe we did not venture into these two buildings based on not having anything useful inside but just empty spaces and open windows. Nothing inside was appealing I am guessing since we did not venture inside on this day and I did not return to this area for a good few years. A huge disappointment in my book as I looked over my pictures on this day.  The grounds were littered with the debris of abandonment – beds, household odds, and ends, remnants of haphazard demolitions, all evidence of a space left unguarded.



A close-up of large, rusted industrial machinery in an abandoned factory, with pipes and metal components, bathed in the diffuse light from surrounding windows.



The powerhouse, known as Building 27/27A/27B, was a relic of industrial might. Within its walls, boilers and assorted machinery sprawled across multiple floors, each piece telling a story, each corner a snapshot in time, adding depth and character to my photographs.


But it was the High Bay building that truly captured the essence of Anamet's past glory. Spanning a vast 220,000 square feet, this structure stood tall and imposing, first erected in 1852 and expanded in the early 1900s. Its cavernous interior, almost Amazon-like, now awash with stagnant water, graffiti, and the detritus of modern neglect, echoed a bygone era of industrial prowess.


Spacious interior of a large, empty factory with a high ceiling supported by beams, with sunlight filtering through, and graffiti on distant walls indicating past activity.
High Bay Building

Abandoned industrial building with graffiti-covered walls under a partly cloudy sky, surrounded by overgrown vegetation and urban debris.



The city's intervention has been monumental. Millions have been invested in the demolition of several structures and the refurbishment of the High Bay building. Despite the heavy financial toll on local taxpayers, including a staggering $2.7 million for roof repairs and hazardous material removal, the site has been earmarked for redevelopment, especially poignant given its location in one of Connecticut's most underserved neighborhoods. While most buildings met their end in 2019, the High Bay building remains a solitary monument to the area's industrial heritage and a beacon of potential transformation, its story continuing to unfold well into the fall of 2022.



History



An overgrown corner inside an abandoned factory with rusting tanks and equipment, graffiti on walls, and greenery sprouting through the concrete, illuminated by light from a window pane.




Spanning 17.46 acres and nestled between South Main Street, Jewelry Street, the Naugatuck River, and Washington Avenue, the site holds a rich tapestry of industrial history, dating back to the early 1800s. It was here that the seeds of the Benedict and Burnham Manufacturing Co. were sown, growing from Aaron Benedict's humble button shop established in 1812.


Benedict's vision burgeoned with the arrival of skilled British roller hands in the late 1820s, paving the way for primary brass production in Waterbury. His enterprise wasn't just about raw materials; it continued to craft finished brass goods, a testament to Benedict's multifaceted industrial prowess. 1843 marked a significant milestone with the incorporation of Benedict and Burnham Manufacturing Co., distinct in its approach to separating its major lines of fabricated goods into nominally independent corporate entities.


This strategy led to the birth of American Pin Co. in 1846 and Waterbury Button Co. in 1849, each branching out from Benedict and Burnham's industrial tree. The expansion didn't stop there. Waterbury Clock Co. in 1857 and Waterbury Watch Co. in 1880 joined the family, showcasing the company's diverse industrial capabilities, while the parent firm continued its mastery in producing light hardware.


The turn of the century saw Benedict and Burnham join forces with American Brass Co., a conglomerate formed by the merger of three major brass producers in the Naugatuck Valley. The acquisition by Anaconda Copper Co. in 1922 further elevated the complex, known as the American Brass Co. South Plant. Notably, the northern part of the complex along Jewelry Street was occupied by American Metal Hose Co., renowned for its flexible metal hose manufacturing.


The origins of Benedict & Burnham Manufacturing Company are rooted in the wartime needs of the early 19th century. With the United States at war with England, Aaron Benedict capitalized on the demand for uniform buttons, transforming everyday brass items into military necessities. His ambition led to the establishment of a rolling mill, and soon, a partnership with Israel Coe in 1829 under Benedict & Coe, further diversifying into brass and copper utensils.


In 1832, Gordon Webster Burnham's entry into Benedict & Coe marked a new chapter. Following Coe's departure in 1834, Burnham and Benedict formed what would become a leading name in brass and copper appliance manufacturing in the United States. The firm's growth was exponential, with assets surpassing $100,000 by 1840, leading to its incorporation in 1843.


The Benedict & Burnham Manufacturing Company's legacy is further enriched by its ventures into separate entities like the American Pin Company, Waterbury Button Company, and Waterbury Clock Company. The latter, in operation from 1857-1944, delved into watchmaking, eventually becoming part of the U.S. Time Corp.


The landmark factory complex, a bastion of industrial achievement, ceased operations in 2000. Anamet, its final industrial occupant, closed its doors in 2016, leaving the site in a state of dormancy, save for a landscaping company, marking an end to over two centuries of manufacturing history on these grounds.




Environmental Concerns




Ruins of industrial foundations with stagnant water, surrounded by lush greenery, with a graffiti-tagged brick building in the background under a blue sky with fluffy clouds.

Office building and Rolling Mill in the foreground unexplored by me. 



The Anamet site, steeped in industrial activity since the 1850s, presents a complex environmental tapestry. Anamet, Inc., which has been manufacturing metal hoses there since 1928, incorporated processes that have had a lasting impact on the site's environment. Their products, often coated with polyvinyl chloride (PVC), served a wide range of industries, from automotive to aerospace.


The manufacturing processes at Anamet involved a variety of chemicals, including machine oils, acid and alkali cleaners, and solvents. Notably, the solvents historically used contained volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as 1,1,1-trichloroethane, tetrachloroethane, and Freon. These substances, while crucial to the manufacturing process, have contributed to the site's environmental challenges.


A report dated July 18, 2023, by Fuss & O’Neill, an engineering firm, highlights the extent of these challenges. The site is affected by widespread contamination, including petroleum and concentrated areas of chlorinated solvents. The firm's community relations plan sheds light on the gravity of the situation, estimating a cleanup cost of $3.2 million for 10 acres. This extensive remediation effort would involve the removal of 4,000 tons of petroleum-polluted soil.


The city, in response to this daunting environmental task, has allocated approximately $2.5 million from grants specifically for the site's cleanup. This funding, while significant, underscores the complex and costly nature of rectifying the environmental legacy of longstanding industrial activity. The Anamet site's story is not just one of industrial prowess and decline, but also a stark reminder of the environmental repercussions of such extensive manufacturing practices.


The Future







The Anamet site, cradled by the confluence of the Naugatuck and Mad Rivers, has a storied past as a hub of industrial activity. Now, the City of Waterbury envisions a transformative future for this land, blending its industrial roots with modern urban development. Central to this vision is the repurposing of the 200,000-square-foot high-bay building for light industrial use, a nod to the site's manufacturing legacy.


The city's ambitious plan extends beyond industrial revival. It envisages a mixed-use redevelopment, combining commercial, residential, and recreational spaces. This multifaceted approach aims to inject new vitality into the area, fostering a community that balances work, living, and leisure.


A key feature of this redevelopment is the proposed 0.45-mile extension of the Naugatuck River Greenway. This multi-use trail is more than just a path; it's a catalyst for healthier lifestyles, offering opportunities for exercise and active transportation. Moreover, it's a strategic initiative to enhance property values and knit together regional economic corridors, creating a synergy between nature, community, and commerce.


Recently, the path to redevelopment hit a snag with the withdrawal of a purchase offer from Ideal Fish, an aquaculture company. This setback, however, has not dampened the city's resolve. Waterbury is actively seeking a new developer or company to step in and realize the potential of this site, a prime candidate for future redevelopment. The Anamet site, rich in industrial history, stands on the cusp of a new chapter, one that promises to reshape the landscape of Waterbury, blending its past with an innovative and prosperous future.




An expansive view of an overgrown concrete lot leading to an industrial brick building with graffiti, a tall smokestack in the distance, and a bright blue sky with scattered clouds overhead.



Sources:


1. Rapoport, Irwin, "Stamford Wrecking Eyes Brass Factory Demolition Completion By December," October 6, 2022, ConstructionEquipmentGuide

2. Puffer, Michael, "Waterbury hires contractor for $2.5M to complete demolition at 17.4-acre industrial complex ahead of redevelopment," July 19, 2022, Hartford Business Journal

3. Benedict and Burnham Manufacturing Company, Connecticut Mills

4. tglanzer, "Massive Anamet cleanup in Waterbury proceeds," September 27, 2019, Republican American Archives

5. Republican American, "Anamet site now Waterbury’s," April 29, 2017,  Republican American Archives

6. Roth, Matthew, et al, Connecticut: An Inventory of Historic Engineering and Industrial Sites (Washington DC: SIA, 1981).

7. Berner, Stephen, Anaconda Brass, 45dgree

8. Commercial News USA: New Products and Trade Information. (1992). United States: U. S. Department of Commerce, Industry and Trade Administration. [URL]

9. Puffer, Michael, "Waterbury launches second developer search for 15-acre former Anamet manufacturing site", December 4, 2023, Hartford Business Journal

10. Sieminski, Barb, "Bringing new life to brownfields", October 22, 2019, The Municipal



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