The Pajama Factory: A place to make things
Lycoming County | I-80 Frontier of the Pennsylvania Wilds
By LaKeshia Knarr
The Pajama Factory in Williamsport offers a refuge for artisans and art admirers to be inspired, work together and learn from one another.
The eight-building complex covers two blocks in the largest city of the Pennsylvania Wilds and boasts 300,000 square feet of floor area.
Owner Mark Winkelman, a retired architect, bought the historic building in back in 2007 with a goal to develop it into “a place to make things.”
That is underway – and is evident throughout the buildings.
Large rooms, built with industry and production in mind, are now converted into individual studios and collaborative work spaces for artists, craftspeople and creative entrepreneurs of all backgrounds. Down one hall you might find a soap maker, a community art gallery and a photographer, while in another corridor you’ll be flanked by installation artists, a clay studio and printmakers. This is just a sampling of what is happening between the walls that make up the Pajama Factory.
The building’s history takes you back to the late 1800s, and tells the story of U.S. manufacturing during its highest and lowest points. The massive space was once used to produce rubber footwear and later Weldon Pajama Company, the largest pajama factory in the world during the mid-1950s, utilized the space. (Textile products are actually still made in the building; just visit Equinox, an outdoor apparel company.)
The revitalized Pajama Factory continues to offer cutting edge opportunities to the surrounding communities, from an 8-week Artist In Residence Program that brings up to 12 artisans to the facility to quarterly events and tenant socials that both bring the public into the community and foster a stronger bond between tenants, to workshops and community outreach.
“There’s something here for everyone,” said Danielle Velkoff, events coordinator at The Pajama Factory. “’Dream it. See it. Do it.’ That’s our motto here.”
For more information, visit http://pajamafactory.net/.
*Photos used in this article were taken by Doug Bauman for the Creative Makers of the PA Wilds: A Traveling Public Art Show, which was partly funded by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.