This rundown building in Gloucester, MA is the former Tarr & Wonson Paint Manufactory.  It was originally built in 1863, and was known for making the only bottom paint for boats in the United States.  That paint covered the bottom of fishing boats, and kept all manner of living things from growing into, and eventually destroying, the wooden hulls. Prior to its invention, boats were sheathed in metal, which was far more costly.

After years of mixing its paint in this building, it accumulated several inches of paint made of copper, lead, arsenic, cadmium and a host of other unsavory metals on the floor and walls, and was eventually closed in 1985. 

This image was taken from across the harbor with a telephoto lens on a windy day, and this site has since been on my list for a more intimate exploration.  There has been much discussion about tearing it down over the past few years, so I’ll need to get back soon to have any hope of getting some more images.  That’s if I’m not too late already.


  1. Laurie @ Pride in Photos
    Posted June 3, 2013 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    This is spectacular!! We missed this when we were there two years ago…boo!

  2. Posted June 3, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Really cool look to this image Steven. You have managed to give it an “abandoned” mood.

  3. Posted June 3, 2013 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Terrific image Steven. I’d love to see what the inside looks like. here’s hoping you get back there.

  4. Posted June 3, 2013 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    The grey sky certainly adds to the abandoned mood. Bright sunshine just would not have worked. Maybe you can persuade the owners to let you run one of your Historic Mills workshops there.

  5. Posted June 3, 2013 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    Love these old historic places along the waterfronts. They all have such great character and history.

    I recall a copperlux paint for boat bottoms that was very expensive. Likely a formula created in this building.

    Really nice capture, Steven.

  6. Posted June 4, 2013 at 1:49 am | Permalink

    Nice bit of history here, so have you had a chance to go there and check out the building.

  7. Posted June 4, 2013 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Very nice, looks like a great place to explore a bit closer, good luck, hope it is still there

  8. Posted June 6, 2013 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    These are my hands-down favorite subjects!! Great shot here, Steven, I love how there really isn’t a straight line to be found in that old building, it just has so much character! Your shot does a terrific job of bringing that all out.

2 Trackbacks

  1. By 89 Photographs and Stories That You Will Love on June 9, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    […] Manufactory – no straight lines are to be found anywhere in this shot, and I have to say I just love it.  Steven Perlmutter captures and shared a muted shot featuring an old paint manufacturing building, constructed in 1863.  Today it is in very poor condition, making for a terrific photography subject. […]

  2. By – Copper Paint on July 10, 2013 at 6:33 am

    […] few weeks ago, I posted an image of the exterior of the former Tarr & Wonson Paint Factory in Gloucester, MA, and mentioned my […]

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