Today The Cork Factory is a community containing 297 residential apartments but it was originally built by Armstrong Cork Company. The company’s building was built circa 1901, and designed by architect. The one-story engine house followed in 1913. Production at the Armstrong Cork Factory peaked in the 1930s when about 1300 worked here but by 1974 the company had ceased production and moved its headquarters to Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
The company’s product lines evolved from cork products used for life jackets, bicycle grips, munition linings and Heinz ketchup bottles, and Linoleum, to vinyl floors and acoustical ceiling products.
After the factory closed, the complex became home to graffiti artists and was a popular site for raves. Trees spouted from the roofs and all of the metal had been sold for scrap out of the stairwells. The property was the subject of a photo documentary by Annie O’Neill, “Unquiet Ruin.”
Many unsuccessful redevelopment plans plagued the site until 2004 when McCaffery Interests of Chicago partnered with owner Chuck Hammel and financed redevelopment efforts . All three structures on the property were redeveloped and renovated according to the National Historic Landmark guidelines. By 2007, the building, which has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2003, was also added to the Pittsburgh Historic Landmark Foundations’ list of Historic Landmarks.