Dixie Cup: It was in Boston, in 1907, that Lawrence Luellen came up with the idea of creating cardboard cups, as well as an automatic machine for dispensing fresh water.
This idea came about because there was a big push to try and get rid of public drinking vessels to prevent the spread of diseases.
In 1908, Luellen created the American Water Company of New England, along with a small group of investors. The company had started out in New York but eventually moved to a site in the Lehigh Valley to increase production.
Hugh Everett Moore joined Luellen as director, secretary, and treasurer.
Moore was a driving force behind wanting to establish the United Nations headquarters in Easton, PA.
After World War II, he supported the creation of the United Nations and was a consultant who worked on developing the UN charter. He died in 1972, eight years before the Dixie Cup factory shut down.
The Individual Drinking Cup Company from New York was incorporated in Maine at the end of 1910. This company began to produce paper cups after Luellen granted his patents to the new company.
In 1912, the company’s product was named the Health Kup. Paper cups became more and more popular, especially after an outbreak of flu following the First World War.
The company faced growing competition for the production of paper cups. Hugh Moore decided to change the name of his product to Dixie Cup in 1919, in reference to a line of dolls, which was very popular and produced by the Dixie Doll Company in New York.
Hugh Moore understood that the production facilities in New York were becoming insufficient, and began to look for new facilities in other states. He became interested in the site in Easton, Pennsylvania. Andrew Endelman, who owned a 400-acre farm, initially refused to sell, but later, Hugh Moore acquired just 7 acres at $3,000 per acre.
Moore decided this was the perfect place to build a plant. The company acquired a loan from Easton First Bank of $280,000 to be paid back at 5% over 11 years. The company signed a construction contract with White Construction Co, and the plant was designed with an area of 80,000 square feet.
In 1921, the plant was opened with 78 employees. In 1923, the Dixie Cup Co. began to produce cups for ice cream portions, opening the Ice Cream Dixie franchise.
On the top of the factory was erected a giant Dixie Cup, which has garnered its own place in history. The design was changed over the years to reflect the changing style of the product itself. During the Hurricane Diane emergency in 1955, the cup served as a water tower to provide emergency water.
It has also been reported that, since the Dixie Cup was lit up at night, pilots heading to the Lehigh Valley International Airport would use it as part of their navigation.
The site was sold to investors in 1980 after a decision was made to move the working plant to another location. Joseph Reibman was a lawyer for the investors in 1983, but he soon became an investor himself, and he helped transform the former factory into a warehouse.
Joseph Reibman currently owns 608,000 square feet of the property. He intends to transform the former production site into 330 apartments and 128,000 square feet of commercial space, which will include a hotel or offices, a restaurant, and other retail businesses. The project cost is estimated to be $80 million.
In 2008, the housing market collapsed, preventing Reibman from carrying out his plans. However, his luck turned in 2012; after the plant received a Keystone Opportunity Zone designation, he was granted a deferment of local taxes and taxes due to Northampton County until 2023.
Although manufacturing paper cups isn’t hazardous, asbestos had been used in the construction of the building, making it unsafe. Consequently, in 2019, state environmental officials began to clean up any pollution that remained at the former Dixie Cup facility.
The project is still ongoing, and clean up work includes soil excavation, removal of various drums and containers, as well as closing underground tanks.
All photos are provided by Ellen Dunn Photography. You should check her Flickr account for more photos of abandoned places and amazing landscapes! At the end of the article, you can also find old advertisements for the Dixie Cups and The Sanitary Age of Cups, so be sure to scroll right to the end.
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