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Lever Soap Factory, Pagedale

I’m trying to find out more about the abandoned soap factory in Pagedale off of Pennsylvania Avenue. Did you or someone you know work there? Know anything about its history? I learned that it was only abandoned in 2001 when Lever “streamlined” its operations worldwide, after being in use for approximately fifty years.

Update: Demolished by Implosion and wrecking in late 2016, early 2017.

9 Comments

  1. I sorta recall when it was built – I was in 7th grade, so that would have been around 1953. A few guys from my HS class worked there during the Summers. Going to North County from Kirkwood or really, ANY points East, involved using what we called the "Pennsylvania Cutoff," which started at Delmar and ran up to St. Charles Rock Road. One would then drive East a bit and pick up Lucas & Hunt at the Normandy Wedge and turn left. This was, of course, long before I270 or I170 to reach the North.While I digressed a bit with the road map, the plant was always impressive when driving by at night; I think it operated 24/7 and was always brightly lit.Sorry I can't supply more info – maybe contact the City of Pagedale?

  2. The plant opened in 1953, closed in 2001 and has been abandoned since that point, besides one corner of the lot being cleared for the parking of school busses. The building was well-built, but broken windows and the lack of closed doors has allowed the elements in, which has caused significant decay and plant growth.

  3. I worked there in the summer of 83, changing cloth socks on metalic-ribbed filters throughout the plant. The job was hot, dirty, and dangerous. I remember our crew needed a specific kind of wrench. Our boss told the plant liaison and within a few hours, we had what we needed — apparently, the plant had some sort of smelting ability because they made the tool there. There were emergency eye and shower stations on most of the floors, which I had to use when a bunch of powder caked on a filter fell off and hit me square in the face, making my safety glasses — like the old shop glasses — ineffective for keeping all debris out. The plant had large freight elevators and, from what I remember, was union. Some of the filters we changed hung in containment units with catwalks between them. When you loosened a filter tube, you could look down two, sometimes three floors: the detergent was shot through the tube filters using air and the excess/filtered material would be blasted out the cloth sock. We changed the filters in the summer and I remember it being over a 110 in the filter compartments. We’d come out to eat lunch and it would feel cool, only to learn the outside temp was in the low 90s. The factory had a lot of moving parts and machinery — it was a bit intimidating at times. When we were there, a worker sandblasting a tank outside fell and seriously injured his back. There were train tracks that run up and through a portion of the factory as well. We made $6 an hour and almost all suffered skin rashes that, in some cases, lasted months after we finished the job.

  4. I worked on the construction management staff for the Post Dosing project in 88-89. I hope that when it was taken down the underground structures were removed and remedied as well.

      • Post Dosing is where the factory would add additional cleaning components to the generic powdered soap. I worked at the factory when it was being de-commissioned and portions of it were shipped to GA to a factory there.

  5. Lever Brothers. Has been demolished. No longer there. I use to work in the Cafeteria .

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