Update: The De La Vergne engine was relocated to a museum in Greenville. The plant was demolished by implosion in April 2016.
The refrigeration plant at Armour is easily the most striking feature of the complex; large numbers of the original machines, far too large to be removed, remain entombed in the building. Time has been rough on the plant, and the skylights are now completely broken out, exposing the entire room to the elements. Also, unfortunately, the steel plates that make up the floor are easily stolen, leaving the room treacherous to visitors.
The Sanborn map is frustratingly not very helpful in elucidating the functions of the various machines left. All we know are from what we see now, and from the photos of Dennis Bensheimer fom June 1986, which show a startling well-preserved refrigeration plant, long before it was decimated by neglect, vandalism and scrapping. Read about Mr. Bensheimer’s visit to the plant in 1986 here.
Below, I will show the photos from 1986, juxtaposed with photos from the last five years.
All photos from 1986 courtesy of Dennis Bensheimer.
Above and below, an overall view of the refrigeration plant; note the well-preserved, clean conditions from 1986 versus the dilapidation seen today.
Above, the machine with the attached belt was in good condition, its red paint intact; below, the machine has shown considerable detioration.
Probably most sadly, the beautiful switch board has suffered severe damage since 1986, with several slate panels shattered and the controls ripped from the boards.
The two control boxes, shown intact above, are now sitting ajar, with their innards broken.
Tomorrow, we will look at the giant De La Vergne engine, the largest steam engine left in the plant.