U-Haul Unlocks Tastykake Plant With Self Storage Conversion

 

TK header

History was made inside this plant. Tastykake’s Butterscotch Krimpet sponge cake was invented at the company’s original headquarters three years before the Twinkie. Photo circa 1977 | Courtesy of the George D. McDowell Philadelphia Evening Bulletin Collection, Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries

Editor’s Note: The last remaining building at Tasty Baking Company’s former baking complex on West Hunting Park Avenue will soon join the ranks of the city’s growing handful of uniquely historic industrial sites reused as self storage facilities. U-Haul International purchased the building back in April for $3,600,000. The conversion of the snack food factory into public storage is currently underway. Tastykake’s fading, landmark sign on the roof of the five-story plant was covered with the storage company’s orange and black logo in May.

A Tasty legacy being buried behind the new U-Haul sign at 2801 W. Hunting Park Avenue| Photo: U-Haul International

A Tasty legacy behind the new U-Haul sign at 2801 W. Hunting Park Avenue| Photo: U-Haul International

Built in 1922, the building vastly increased baking output for the growing company, leading to Tastykake’s expansion, notoriety, and distribution reach outside of the city and, eventually, across the country. Inside the facility, the company began to experiment with new products like the Junior and the Butterscotch Krimpet. 

Most of Tastykake’s campus was leveled in 2011 to make way for the sprawling 220,000 square-foot shopping complex, Bakers Centre. The cornerstone building at 2801 W. Hunting Park Avenue was left to sit abandoned and derelict since 2010 after the 101 year old company moved into its current, 345,000 square foot headquarters and baking facility at the Navy Yard. The old plant was gutted for scrap in 2011, and the interior has been deteriorating ever since. 

U-Haul has a pretty impressive track record of reusing Philadelphia’s heritage industrial buildings. The company’s two storage facilities in South Philadelphia–at 11th and 12th Streets and Washington Avenue–were the former factories of the American Cigar Company and J. Wyeth Bros, a pharmaceutical company. The Brockway Motor Company sales center at 747 West Allegheny, a historic commercial building that we featured in January, now wears the U-Haul logo as well. While not quite preservation, U-Haul’s conversions do aid in retaining visible stitches of the city’s historic, built fabric that would otherwise be lost to irreversible decay or new development. The company’s reuse of old industrial structures could additionally be seen as a form of incidental place holding should the buildings ever find a third life as apartments, offices, artist studios, or retail space.

Photographer Chandra Lampreich offers a glimpse inside the barren bones of Tastykake’s original North Philadelphia plant before U-Haul’s renovation began.

Tk1

Tk2

Tk3

Tk4

Tk5

Tk6

Tk7

Tk9

About the author

Chandra Lampreich became interested in photography in high school, and then continued her training at Antonelli Institute where she received an associates degree in photography. She specializes in architecture photography, and has a passion for shooting old, dilapidated buildings. Her photographs can be seen on Flickr here.



4 Comments


  1. Great pictures Chandra. Love your work. I knew two people associated with Tasty-Kake. There was a couple who owned a small motel in Brigantine and I use to stop there every time I came to the shore from my assignment with the Coast Guard in Washington DC. Mary and John always had some Tasty-Kakes for snacks with the morning coffee. Another was a girl I supervised in the Coast Guard. She was from Philly and her father worked (with John) at Tasty-Kake. (Yes …. small world isn’t it?) When I was very young my mom use to buy Tasty-Kakes for my brother and I. She had to get rid of the wrappers before my father came home! Father was a strong union man and Tasty was a non-union place.

    • I worked there for 36 years I started in September 1969. Had to stop because my body give up. went out on disability. We baked cake the old way everything was weigh off. back then that was was a good bake product. I’m going to stop before I say something wrong about today’s product

  2. I feel a little above meh about this U-Haul news. When Baker’s Center redevelopment first started there was lots and lots of talk of adaptive re-use. (Maybe in 30 more years?) Per a NewsWorks article from 2011: “Elsewhere on the site, the 460,000 square-foot Tasty Baking Production Factory building will be preserved, and redeveloped with retail, educational and institutional offices, and possibly a parking structure to hold about 350 cars….” This is definitely not that. U-Haul is of course way better than a giant vacant factory and it’s good the building will see some action and won’t be a burden on the community.

    On the other side of the factory, the Baker’s Center shopping center is really bridging the gap between neighborhoods. It’s actually because of the shopping center’s success that I am more disappointed in what’s happening with the buildings along W Hunting Park Ave; that and what’s happening isn’t what I heard was happening for the last 4+ years. There’s tons of residential tucked alongside Hunting Park Ave. I see more people walking and waiting for transit around there. There’s also the Share Food Program of Pennsylvania and the Nicetown Boys & Girls Club isn’t that far away either. On the other side by Fox Ave is Abbottsford Homes, which is entirely sequestered. Baker’s Center by design is turned entirely inwards and it didn’t have to be, but that’s another conversation. All in all, a good development fulfilling a lot of community needs.

    • Good point about Bakers being turned inward. For that matter, they couldn’t even be bothered to put a sidewalk up the access road to Roberts. I always see people walking along the side of the road either to Abbotsford or the corner of Henry and it’s frustrating.

      As far as U-Haul taking the building, I’m happy about it, but only because it means the building will be buttoned-up and maintained until a better use comes along. A self-storage facility isn’t really hard to undo later when there may be more demand for higher uses.

Leave a Reply

Comment moderation is enabled, no need to resubmit any comments posted.

Recent Posts
Unlisted Philadelphia: Atlantic Snuff Company

Unlisted Philadelphia: Atlantic Snuff Company

February 17, 2017  |  Unlisted Philadelphia

Architectural illustrator Ben Leech spotlights unique and significant buildings not protected on the local register with his series, Unlisted Philadelphia. In this installment, a High Victorian in Chinatown that's still up to snuff > more

Inside The Empty, Gilded Halls Of Elkins Estate

Inside The Empty, Gilded Halls Of Elkins Estate

February 16, 2017  |  Last Light

Photographer Kris Catherine gives an exclusive look inside the opulent mansions of Elkins Estate > more

Dial Up For The Latest Election News

Dial Up For The Latest Election News

February 14, 2017  |  Harry K's Encyclopedia

Harry K. dials up the Evening Telegraph Information Bureau, a pilot communications service in 1905 that provided Keystone Telephone customers with news and information at a moment's notice > more

La Salle University Threatens Germantown Landmarks

La Salle University Threatens Germantown Landmarks

February 9, 2017  |  Soapbox

On Friday, the Historical Commission will consider legal protections for two historic Germantown homes. Owners La Salle University will oppose the nominations to retain their right to demolition. Arielle Harris makes a case for saving these two Wister family properties and reveals La Salle's long tradition of razing neighborhood landmarks > more

Paging Dr. Typewriter: Healing Old Tech On Fabric Row

Paging Dr. Typewriter: Healing Old Tech On Fabric Row

February 8, 2017  |  Walk the Walk

Bryan Kravitz brings old Remingtons back from the dead at his repair shop in Mt. Airy and typing salon in South Philly. Joe Brin has the story > more

An Indelible Corner Of The Eraserhood

An Indelible Corner Of The Eraserhood

February 7, 2017  |  The Shadow Knows

The Shadow heads down to the corner of Ridge Avenue and 11th Street where an attractive wire and steel warehouse stands out like a diamond among broken glass > more