The Dress Factory

Patrick Griffin / photos

Patrick Griffin / photos

By PATRICK GRIFFIN
RUT YOU SEE

Everyone, it seems, has their own great idea for this building. Almost the only thing people agree about is that the status quo has got to go. I refer, of course, to the former dress factory, anchoring the corner of State Street and Cleveland Avenue with insouciant disregard.

Smashed windows, scattered wood debris, vapid disposition — the building says “my best years are past, please keep walking.” But despite the factory’s protests, the place has a lot of life left and everyone feels it.

Built in 1946, the long, horizontal lines and orange, ceramic façade make it impossible for the massive structure to shirk its prominence. The ribbon windows shooting off towards the horizon line with no breaks allow them and the roof the appearance of floating above Cleveland Avenue.

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An example of the International Style of architecture that eschewed the ornate Art Deco movements and focused on simplifying buildings in order to express their function, the factory still exudes a beauty partially due to its design and partially due to the starkness surrounding it. The dress factory is a three-dimensional building trying to escape from a two-dimensional landscape.

The factory was recently put up for tax sale by the city. Despite some buzz, no one bid. Whether it becomes a job-creating business, an artist’s residence, an urban farm, a community space or a million other possibilities, downtown Rutland and a needy Northwest neighborhood are anxious for a next chapter.

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