Ferracute - Post 1968

In preparation of his book, Ferracute, Arthur J. Cox was given permission by former Ferracute president George E. Bass to explore the property and buildings of the Ferracute site. Cox and local photographer James Fenimore Sutton photographed the site in the early 1980’s. Since then, the Ferracute site has continued to fall into disrepair. Several attempts to restore the site either in whole or in part have gone unsuccessful. In 2000, Ferracute was named one of the top ten endangered New Jersey historical sites. Two grants, $15,000 in 2004 and $15,375 in 2007 were to be used to help fund the preparation of a Phase I Archaeological Survey of the site. A previous Trust grant helped fund a preservation plan and to explore opportunities for adaptive uses for the site .

Edison Lab

View of the rear of the front office and drafting and pattern shops

December 1973 – The Ferracute property is acquired by Lee and Catherine Lane who occupy a portion of the buildings to house an antique flea market and craft store, calling their venue Ferracute Village.

January 1974 - James Gandy offers some phonograph related items for sale at Ferracute Village and is shown some Oberlin Smith papers that remained in the main office after the 1968 sale. Among them are references to Smith’s early experiments on magnetic sound recordings and improvements on Edison’s phonograph. Gandy begins research on Oberlin Smith.

Edison Lab

North end of the drafting and pattern shop

Nov 1976 - Arthur Cox contacts George E. Bass, living in the Haverford PA area, and asks permission to explore the Ferracute plant site. Bass forwards a letter granting access and the keys to the complex. Cox recovers a selection of historically important wooden patterns from the pattern storage shed at the end of the property.

August 1977 – The majority of the remaining thousands of wooden Ferracute machine patterns are brokered and sold to a firm in Massachusetts, presumably for resale to restaurant chains and others for wall decorations.

Edison Lab

The main erection  building and production office

February 1980 – The Bridgeton Victorian Society launches efforts to acquire and restore the Ferracute office building from owners Abbot Mfg. Co. A fund raising effort included the sale of a pen and ink drawing by local artist Ron D’Arrigo. The society was unable to reach their financial goals.

April 1982 - George Bass move from Haverford PA to reside the rest of his days in Santa Barbara CA.

November 1985 – Ferracute: The History of an American Enterprise – by Arthur J. Cox and Thomas Malim is published and offered for sale

Edison Lab

Deteriorating roof of the pattern shop and the smoke stack

May 1987 – The Hagley Library, Wilmington DE, acquires a substantial quantity of Ferracute archives, collected by Cox and Malim in preparation of publishing of their book.

March 1988 – A paper by Fredrick Karl Engel is published in the Journal of the Audio Engineering Society “A Hundred years of Magnetic Sound Recording”. Engle proves Smith is the true inventor of Magnetic recording.

1989 - The City of Bridgeton offeres the Ferracute property for sale for $500,000.

Edison Lab

The main erection shop (R) and the north end of the pattern shop

August 1991 - Environmental Services Group buys the site with plans to use it as a recyclable processing center.

November 1993 – Vandals set fire to several bales of stored recyclables in the main erection building. As a result the building, especially the roof structure is severely damaged. It takes several years to remove all debris from the main building.

May 2000 - Plans by the Tri-County Community Action Agency are to convert the Ferracute property into senior housing complex.

Office Fall 2010

The Ferracute Office - Fall 2010 - Photo by John Oesterling

2000 – The Ferracute site is named as one of New Jersey's top ten endangered historic sites in the state.

Feb 2002 – Several storage sheds are demolished including the large smoke stack, in fear of falling across the nearby railroad tracks and hitting Oberlin Smith’s carriage barn, now converted into a private residence.

July 2007 - The South Jersey Economic Development committee held a workshop concerning redevelopment of the Ferracute Site. No conclusions as to the future of the site were finalized.