New Hope for an Adirondack Community
by Niki Kourofsky
For decades the Oval Wood Dish smokestack stood as a symbol of Tupper Lake’s lumber-based prosperity; in this century it’s become another reminder of lost opportunity for a community struggling to reinvent itself. Now Syracuse University students are envisioning a new life for the company’s more than 100,000 square foot factory: five teams competing in the university’s annual industrial design competition will present their ideas for the space at The Wild Center, in Tupper Lake, this month.
The Oval Wood Dish Company, which moved from Michigan in 1918 after executives got an eyeful of the area’s hardwood reserves, manufactured millions of veneer food containers, wooden forks and spoons, tongue depressors and more. At its peak the company employed more than 500, but by the 1960s its star was fading along with neighboring lumber supplies. Beginning with the Adirondack Plywood Corporation and ending with Jarden Corporation, the place shifted through a number of identities until its final closure in 2008. Since then the sprawling complex has remained mostly empty.
Read more about the history of this Tupper Lake icon in “A Fork in the Road,” from our December 2003 issue, just as plastic cutlery giant Jarden was taking over the embattled company. Entries in “Product, Factory, Community: Creative re-use of the Oval Wood Factory” will be presented at The Wild Center (518-359-7800, www.wildcenter.org) on December 12, at 6 p.m.