Photo and Commentary John Pappas
The Cummings Center now dominates the economic life of Beverly. The newly redone building sits on 74 acres of land with over 32 acres of interior office space. Built in 1904 and formerly the United Shoe Machinery Corporation was the largest reinforced concrete structure in the world until 1937. At one time once of the largest factories in the world "the Shoe" is said to be one of the most significant industrial landmarks in the country. For more than 70 years of "the Shoe" dominated the economic life of Beverly and the surrounding neighborhoods were started to house workers. "the Shoe’s" business of manufacturing machinery which makes shoes was so prosperous that even during the depression the area was thriving.
As technology improved and it became cheaper for most factories to be overseas there was on longer a need for the USM. The factory then fell into despair. When Cummings Properties took over the land and began to restore it was regarded as one of the biggest recycling projects. Now Cummings properties leases more than 32 acres of interior space to a wide variety of companies. Three colleges currently have classes and projects going on there. Also there are branches of the Beverly National Bank and Danvers Savings Banks alone with four restaurants and coffee shops.
The Cummings Center is a timepiece. It shows how buildings were mad a century ago and incorporates the newer style of architecture. It still has the same layout with the long concrete buildings that are only a few stories tall but now they have added two sections that connect the main buildings. These additions have curved glass covering the entire front. This dramatically changes the way the main entrance looks. When the original buildings were built having a glass siding of a building was unheard of. Now it is common to have a glass building. Now that buildings are no longer built mainly out of concrete the Cummings center is a very rare building. Also most buildings that have large amounts of office space or are rented out like the Cummings Center are skyscrapers. The Cummings Center has utilized the old buildings that were originally the United Shoe Machinery Corporation and modernized it. They still kept the same overall design but gave it a newer feel. It is considered to be one of the most significant industrial landmarks in the entire country.