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A.F. Thomson Manufacturing/Corbin Factory

Historic Sites, Monuments, Landmarks, and Public Art ()

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The West Edge Factory was originally built in 1930 by A.F. Thomson Manufacturing, and housed production for the stove manufacturing company until the 1960s. A clothing manufacturer, Corbin Ltd purchased the building after A.F. Thompson vacated, and operated out of the factory until 2002. Corbin was the last manufacturing company to utilize the building, and it sat vacant until 2014 when the Coalfield Development Corporation saved the old factory from demolition with intent to restore the space as a hub for local artisans. Today, the space is known as the West Edge Factory, and is being recreated as a museum to tell the stories of the laborers who worked at the Corbin factory.

The West Edge Factory today.
One of three small community pools installed in Huntington in the 1950s was on the factory's property.
Storefront of the Huntington location.
The restoration process of the West Edge Factory.
Local art on display at the West Edge Factory during the Huntington Music and Arts Festival

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 The factory was built for the A.F. Thompson Manufacturing Company, and was one of two factory locations established by A.F. Thompson. The factory allowed for the mass production of cast-iron and ceramic stove heaters. A.F. Thompson donated property that was located next to the facility to the city of Huntington so that a public pool could be created; this pool was one of three small community pools that were created during the 1950s The company was eventually passed down to Thompson’s son, Cecil, who also served as one of Huntington’s mayors. A.F. Thompson manufacturing closed for business at this location in the 1960s.

Corbin Ltd was a garment manufacturing company who inhabited the building after A.F. Thompson, and was reportedly the largest employer in the area. Nathan Corbin and his sons originally founded a clothing manufacturing company in Brooklyn, NY in the late 1940s, and decided to move their business to Huntington, WV in 1957. The Corbin outlet store was first located at 416 10th Street, and was later moved to the Radisson Hotel. The factory allowed Corbin to mass produce men’s flat front trousers as opposed to pleated pants of the past. The company gained popularity and added suits and sports coats to be sold by top retailers nationwide. Due to rising production costs, Corbin Ltd switched from being a manufacturer to a wholesaler of menswear in 2003. In the same year, the Individualized Apparel Group bought out Corbin Ltd, and the Huntington factory was left behind.

After sitting vacant for over ten years, the community decided to destroy the factory that employed much of the Tri-State area. The plan was to demolish the building to make room for a new industry that could provide jobs to the local community, however demolition costs were too high. The Wayne County Economic Development Authority hired the Coalfield Development Corporation to salvage materials from the factory to lessen demolition costs. The Coalfield Development Corporation saw potential in the factory’s strong foundation and support system, and decided to purchase the factory for $110,000.  The Coalfield Development Corporation is a nonprofit that serves as a workforce training and life skills program for high school graduates from low-income areas of Wayne County. 

“I think this building in many ways symbolizes the challenges Huntington has had, this was a building that employed hundreds of people, globalization happened and it closed down and we lost a lot of our good jobs, but now it’s going to symbolize a new Huntington which is more creative and entrepreneurial, building on what’s great about the past, but shaping a more sustainable future,” – Brandon Dennison, executive director of the Coalfield Development Corporation1

The Coalfield Development Corporation was awarded a grant from Brooklyn, N.Y.-based ArtPlace America for $350,000, and a $150,000 loan from Charleston-based Community Works. The plans to restore and re-purpose the factory will unfold in a two-phase process. The factory is being gutted and repaired to hold a warehouse that will showcase local artisans’ work, and also residential units and a shared work space. Recent plans have been made to convert a section of the factory into a museum dedicated to the laborers from Corbin Ltd. 

Sources

1. Davis, Clark. Can This Huntington Warehouse Become a Magnet for Artists?. WV Public Broadcasting. August 10, 2014. Accessed December 01, 2016. http://wvpublic.org/post/can-huntington-warehouse-become-magnet-artists.

2. Casto, James E.. Lost Huntington: Corbin Ltd. store. Herald Dispatch. May 30, 2015. Accessed December 01, 2016. http://www.herald-dispatch.com/special/lost_huntington/lost-huntington-corbin-ltd-store/article_03ab....

3. Casto, James E.. Old Huntington, WV plant now creates new jobs. The State Journal. August 04, 2016. Accessed December 01, 2016. http://www.statejournal.com/story/32684150/old-huntington-wv-plant-now-creates-new-jobs.

4. Lost Huntington: The Olympic Pool. Herald Dispatch. August 04, 2014. Accessed December 01, 2016. http://www.herald-dispatch.com/special/lost_huntington/lost-huntington-the-olympic-pool/article_17b5....

5. Harold, Zack. Group hopes to give former factory new life as arts hub. Charleston Gazette Mail. December 04, 2014. Accessed December 01, 2016. http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20141204/DM07/141209721/1282.

6. CORBIN PROJECT RECEIVES A 2014 ARTPLACE AMERICA GRANT. Coalfield Development Corporation. July 29, 2014. Accessed December 01, 2016. http://www.coalfield-development.org/news/view/corbin-project-receives-a-2014-artplace-america-grant.

7. New Use for Former Corbin Building in Huntington. WSAZ. August 01, 2014. Accessed December 01, 2016. http://www.wsaz.com/home/headlines/New-Use-for-Former-Corbin-Building-in-Huntington-269544811.html.

8. Roberts, Brandon. Old factory gets new life. Herald Dispatch. March 09, 2015. Accessed December 01, 2016. http://www.herald-dispatch.com/news/old-factory-gets-new-life/article_51b4b751-36cf-50cc-ace8-6aec46....

9. West Edge. Accessed December 01, 2016.
http://westedgewv.blogspot.com/p/about.html.

10. Pace, Fred. Historians looking to interview former Corbin factory workers. Herald Dispatch. November 30, 2016. Accessed December 01, 2016. http://www.herald-dispatch.com/news/historians-looking-to-interview-former-corbin-factory-workers/article_a1043053-fcf7-584a-b29e-1a523afc1cb5.html.


Address
1040 Vernon St.
Huntington, WV 25704
Phone Number
(740) 377-8683
Hours
Call for hours.
Tags
  • Business and Economic Development
This location was created on 2016-12-01 by Hailey Horn, Preservation Alliance of West Virginia.

This entry has been viewed 448 times within the past year


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