Lehigh Valley

Local pigment plant with 140-year history to close

A pigment plant operating in different forms in Northampton County since the 1800s is closing.

"It's an old facility," according to local historian Leonard Buscemi, who has lived in Easton since 1940.

"All the memories I have I want to share with the people," he said.

On Wednesday, he was talking to 69 News about a facility known as Huntsman Pigments, on the border of Easton and Wilson. It looks like a relic from another time, and soon, it will be; it's closing.

In the 1870s, iron oxide production reportedly happened there.

"C.K. Williams, I understand, erected the building. I don't know if it erected the existing building, but they erected a building there for that purpose," said Buscemi.

Through most of the 1900s, they made pigments there under different names. It was Pfizer in the 60s, a time when Buscemi worked for a cleaners.

"Just behind the plant, there's a road," he told 69 News. "It was called Lucy Street, and there were homes on Lucy street, oh I'd say maybe a half-dozen double homes."

The homes are long gone now, but back then, several Italian families lived there. They were Buscemi's customers. Their houses, clothes, and everything else in the area were always red from the pigment.

"Everything was red down there. I remember some of the people, we used to talk, and they'd say that they didn't hang their clothes out until nighttime," said Buscemi. "If they hung their clothes out during the day, they'd turn red."

Most recently, Huntsman owned the pigment plant, managed by its corporate cousin Venator. Workers recently got a letter telling them the plant is permanently closing. About 80 people are expected to lose their jobs.

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