For 140 years, the Workshop of the World bled many colors from Worth Street in Frankford. Globe Dye Works, established by Richard Greenwood in 1865, pumped water from the Little Tacony Creek (now sewered under Torresdale Avenue) for use in dyeing and bleaching processes.
The company grew, dyeing and winding yarns and keeping up with technological advancements like synthetic dyes, to occupy 17 buildings. Globe Dye Works remained in business, owned by the Greenwood family, until 2005. That year, Charlie Abdo, Pete Kelly, and Matt and Ian Pappajohn partnered to buy the 17 buildings and foster the evolution of the Workshop of the World, transforming the facilities into craft manufacturing, art production, and exhibition. Among the tenants who’ve set up shop are a chocolatier, two boatbuilders, a book and printmaker, a floral designer, an antiquarian, and a number of artists.
In a sense, Globe Dye Works embodies the Hidden City vision: to activate spaces deemed obsolete and march forward with and within them. It’s no coincidence, then, that it’s one of our nine sites for the Hidden City Festival 2013.
With Oil & Water, Philadelphia’s Dufala Brothers are taking the boiler room of Globe and amplifying defunct infrastructure—by creating it anew. Recalling Nathaniel Popkin’s thoughts on the contemporary and the temporary, the Dufala Brothers’ installation “blurs the line between historic and contemporary technological function and outdated industrial detritus.” Using locally sourced recycled materials, Oil & Water turns the notable rehabilitation of Globe Dye Works around, creating a “de-hab” space instead.
The photos below are from a visit Nathaniel and I paid to Globe Dye Works in 2009, months before even the last Hidden City Festival. So this is a preview, a way back preview, to this exceptional site for this year’s festival. Click any of them to launch the gallery.
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