OHA Adds Value to Three Development Projects with Exhibits



Dietz Factory, 1938

The continued resurgence of downtown Syracuse is a great sign for all of us that live and work in the Salt City. Refurbishing and repurposing the city’s myriad of empty factories and warehouses has characterized so much of that economic development over the last 25 years. Beginning with the overhaul of Franklin Square, the OHA has worked with many area developers to add the value to their projects by telling the rich history of these beautiful buildings through images and artifacts from our vast collection of local treasures.

The Oak Knitting mill building at 102 W. Division St. in Syracuse was being used as a food warehouse by American Stores Co., operator of the Acme Markets, when this photo was shot in 1955.

Currently, we are working on several development projects including, a major exhibit for the new Dietz Lofts in the former Dietz Factory on Wilkinson Street. The OHA will be loaning several lanterns from our extensive collection, in addition to a wide variety of 3-D items, including catalogs and antique headlamps from turn of the century automobiles. We have also created a collection of images that will adorn the entrance, the common areas, and the staircases in the building.

The OHA is also working on an exhibit in the old Oak Knitting Mill on West Division Street. This will tell the story of this property that is inextricably linked to the salt industry that dominated the area for most of the 19th century and the Oswego Canal, which ran directly in front of the building as Rout 81 does today. During excavation, the construction crews dug up some very interesting 19th century salt brine pipes made from hollowed out trees. The exhibit will also display images depicting the old salt sheds and canal boats. We also discovered during our visit that the building was made with bricks made by the Onondaga Fired Brick Company, and they were stamped ONONDAGA on each brick.  A few of these will also be on display in the lobby.

The Camillus Cutlery Factory project is also currently in production. In keeping with the pattern, the former factory is being converted into residential and commercial space. We have been gathering turn of the century images and several 3D artifacts, including several knives and catalogs, for display in the common area of the building.

Interested in a building or company exhibit of your own? Learn more.

Robert Searing, Associate Curator of History