Port Blakely Mill Company Generator Building
The panoramic image provided below on Google Maps Street View offers a comprehensive, 360-degree view inside the abandoned Port Blakely Mill Company Generator Building. This immersive experience allows viewers to explore the decrepit yet fascinating interior of the building, revealing its historic architecture and the remnants of its past. As you navigate through the panoramic view, you can observe the intricate details and the effects of time on this once-thriving structure. The building, now a shadow of its former self, stands as a testament to the industrial era it was a part of, offering a unique glimpse into a bygone era. This virtual tour through the Street View feature on Google Maps enables a detailed and engaging exploration from the comfort of your own home.
Image by: Gregg M. Erickson
The Port Blakely Mill Company Generator Building, an emblem of Bainbridge Island’s rich industrial past, stands as a silent witness to the bygone era of the lumber industry’s zenith. Nestled on Bainbridge Island, Washington, directly across from Seattle in Puget Sound, the story of this historic building intertwines with the narrative of the Port Blakely Mill Company, once the largest mill on the Pacific Coast and possibly in the world.
The Birth of a Lumber Giant: The Port Blakely Mill Company In 1863, Captain William Renton founded the Port Blakely Mill Company (PBMCo) on Bainbridge Island, marking the inception of what would become a lumber industry behemoth. The mill, under Renton’s visionary leadership, swiftly grew to monumental proportions, churning out 50,000 board feet of lumber daily within its first year. The company expanded rapidly alongside the booming timber industry in Washington territory, with the annual timber production in the 1880s skyrocketing from 160 million board feet to over a billion.
In 1876, Renton incorporated the company in San Francisco, partnering with Charles S. Holmes. Initially, the PBMCo obtained logs through contracts with independent operators, a strategy Renton preferred to avoid additional risk or capital investment in logging camps. However, dwindling supplies of accessible high-quality lumber and rising log prices compelled a shift in policy. By 1891, the PBMCo owned 80,000 acres of timber land, having built the Puget Sound and Grays Harbor Railroad to transport logs to the mill.
The Decline and Closure of the Mill The mill’s success, however, was not without its challenges and eventual decline. The mill suffered two major fires, the first in 1888, leading to the construction of a new, more efficient mill, and the second in 1907, after which a much smaller mill was built. The company changed hands in February 1903 when Renton’s heirs sold it to David E. Skinner and John W. Eddy. The new mill operated only sporadically by 1912, and while World War I briefly revived its fortunes, the post-war period saw a rapid decline. Skinner and Eddy closed the mill in 1922, and the defunct mill was dismantled in 1924.
The Generator Building: A Remnant of the Past The Port Blakely Mill Company Generator Building, a concrete structure at Blakely Harbor Park, is one of the few remnants of this once-great industrial enterprise. Its history has been intertwined with the mill’s, serving industrial purposes during the mill’s heyday and later falling into disuse. The building became a subject of contention; some viewed it as a nuisance due to vandalism, while others saw it as a vital piece of Bainbridge Island’s history.
Current State and Usage Today, the generator building is in a dilapidated state, yet it holds historical significance as the last standing structure from the old mill. It has long served as a canvas for graffiti artists, reflecting a blend of history and contemporary culture. The building was once considered for refurbishment as part of a proposed development plan, which was eventually abandoned in 1994. Since then, it has reverted to its unofficial use by local youth and artists. Currently, it stands as a legal graffiti wall in the public park.
There have been discussions about the future of this historic structure. Some community members and historians advocate for its preservation due to its historical significance. One proposal suggested transforming it into a visitor’s center to showcase the site’s history. However, others view it as an eyesore and favor its demolition. Whichever path is chosen, it is clear that any decision will be costly and require careful consideration of the building’s historical value and current state.
If you liked this post, you might like the following. The Rhyolite Train Depot in Nevada, the McIntosh Sugar Works in Georgia, or the Union Trust Bank Company Building in Illinois. You can also check out other abandoned locations in Washington with our top abandoned places in Washington page.
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