Of all the various support buildings that litter the Quincy Smelting Works one particular model stands out over the rest. In a sea of wood framed mediocrity, the machine shop’s cement block facade looks almost baroque in contrast. That cement block style reflects the building’s more recent construction, around 1907. It shares the same architectural flourishes as the Briquetting Plant, also built during the same time period. The style is characterized by faux rounded arch window openings and a concrete facsimile of the rounded arch door openings seen on the Cupola Building.
Its most striking feature is its bulls-eye window adorning the peak of its roof – an almost frivolous detail considering its lack of any functional use. It would seem that a simple square cut opening would have done fine here, but for some unknown reason the architect decided to add this interesting flourish.
That interesting flourish can be seen clearly here on these building plans as well, along with its rounded arch window and door openings. This drawing represents the buildings original connotation as built in 1907, much smaller and discrete then the building that remains today.
Comparing those drawing with the building’s current facade reveals the presence of some drastic renovations. Most notably the doorway has been widened and heightened, necessitating the removal of the arched header above it. In addition one of the adjacent windows has been filled in, though its rounded header is still intact (sans window of course). Due to the use of more concrete brick to fill the old window opening I would guess that these alterations happened not too long after the original building’s construction.
The building was also widened by a considerable margin, adding an entire wing to its northern end. From old Sanborn maps I would guess that this occurred between 1917 and 1928. Though still built from concrete block. the windows on this facade are not decked out with the same arched openings.
Inside the old Machine Shop is still home to a variety of machines, though I don’t think they’re original. I was told that this building – along with several other of these support buildings – had been rented out to various local business after the smelter closed. I would guess these machines are from the era.
Another shot from inside. This one reveals a small staircase that makes its way up into the loft space. I would guess that an electric motor sits up there, the one used to power these machines down here using those overhead belt and pulley system glimpsed in the previous picture. But thats just a guess.
The Quincy Smelter is private property and is open to the public only during special Quincy Smelter Association’s tours and events.
To learn more about the machine shop and its history be sure to visit the Quincy Smelter Blog for their own virtual tour of the site.
To view more photos from the Quincy Smelter – including some awesome wide angle imagery – be sure to check out the Quincy Smelter Gallery at David Clark Photography!
And of course, if you have any photos of your own to contribute to the discussion, make sure to post them over at the Copper Country forum’s Quincy Smelter Thread.