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On the Cover
A Peek Inside the Pajama Factory
By Lou Hunsinger Jr.

The Pajama Factory complex at the corner of Rose Street and Park Avenue has been around for over 120 years, but the latest development for the sprawling factory complex is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.
Ten years ago a group of entrepreneurs headed by architect, Mark Winkleman bought the former Weldon’s factory and Raytown complex, located at 1307 Park Avenue between Rose and Cemetery streets. They had a vision of turning it into an area that would host various artistic as well as commercial entities and that vision appears to be well on its way to fruition according to Winkleman.
The eight-building complex with about 300,000 square feet of floor area, covers two city blocks was bought and renamed the Pajama Factory by his wife and me with the goal of developing it into “a place to make things”.
“As an architect who spent years repurposing century-old manufacturing buildings, I know how to build attractive and affordable workspaces,” Winkleman said. “But was it possible to willfully build a cool and hip community from scratch here? Could life blossom in a place where there was a weak pulse at the time? When we bought the building. “Could life blossom in a place where there was a weak pulse at the time.”
The answer is apparently yes. The Pajama Factory complex has become Williamsport’s center for the arts as the host of numerous art and artisan studios and related businesses, as well as an incubator for several start-up businesses. Winkleman estimates there are more than 100 entities of various types that now call the Pajama Factory their home.
It has become the new go-to destination during Williamsport’s monthly “First Friday” celebrations. Many of the artists who call the Pajama Factory home will often display their talents during this monthly celebration of Williamsport’s art scene.
The Pajama Factory’s mission statement says, “it is a community of people who have come together to build off each other’s strengths and dreams in order to create something bigger than themselves.”
The complex of historic factory buildings was built by the Lycoming Rubber Company between 1883 and 1919. After 1934, the Rubber Company moved out and until 1971, various companies, including the Weldon’s Pajama Company, as well as underwear and shoe manufacturers used the space. The building was scouted and used as a model for the 1950s Broadway play, and later the movie, The Pajama Game starring Doris Day. After 1971, the buildings sat mostly vacant for decades.
The experience of those who rent space for their various entities seems to be a positive one.
Erik Guthrie has two businesses in the Pajama Factory complex, Erik’s Edibles, which is a business selling handcrafted pickles, peppers, canned vegetables and more. He also operates “The White Knight’s Gameroom.” It is one of the area's largest providers of RPGs, CCGs, Tabletop Games, Miniatures, Single Magic Cards, Dice and Wargame supplies.
“Having space for businesses at the Pajama Factory has been great for me,” Guthrie told Webb Weekly. On May 1 I will be starting my sixth year there. I have really had a great opportunity to grow my business there and have been able to make numerous improvements. I have upsized three times. Mark is a great guy to work with and is so good about working with his tenants I have been more than pleased with my experience here at the Pajama Factory.”
Cliff and Verushka Stevens live in a loft apartment at the Pajama Factory and are well pleased with their experience at the Pajama Factory. The couple are from the Philadelphia area and commuted from there to a cabin they own the Laporte area.
“One day we were at the Alabaster Coffee Shop in downtown Williamsport and we really enjoyed what we thought Williamsport area had to offer,” Cliff Stevens said. “I was very impressed with the vibrant and exciting art scene that Williamsport has, so I started looking in various publications and ‘Googling’ looking for a loft apartment in the area so that we could live here. In one of the publications I encountered a story about what Mark was doing in the Pajama Factor complex and I wanted to explore with him the possibility of having a loft apartment there.” Stevens continued, “It is a beautiful place to have a loft apartment. I like the high ceilings and the beautiful wood floors. We now commute between our cabin and here and are renting out the place we had in Philly. It has been a good experience for us and we have had a fantastic relationship with Mark.”
Winkleman has made numerous improvements to the Pajama Factory over the years, including an elevator to make it more handicapped accessible and various fire safety features to make the building more code-compliant.
The latest news, according to Winkleman, is that the Pajama Factory now has a fiber internet connection through the Kinber network and they are now capable of providing the fastest service in the valley. And, in an effort to help bridge the "digital divide" they are using some of the Kinber bandwidth to provide free WIFI service to the surrounding economically challenged Pajama Factory neighborhood.
“And finally, the architectural firm of Albertin Vernon Architects has finalized a 200 plus page historical study of the Pajama Factory complex and the Lycoming Rubber Company, which originally constructed the buildings,” Winkleman said. “We expect that, in the next few months, the Pajama Factory will get state and national recognition as a historical landmark. This is particularly apropos as we will be celebrating the 100 year anniversary of the main building this year! And of course this is the 10th anniversary for the Pajama Factory.”
The Pajama Factory will be having its annual Spring Fest on Saturday, May 6 from noon to 5 p.m. The folks at the Pajama Factory would like to invite you and your family to our annual Springfest on Sat, May 6th from 12-5pm. There be will artist open studios, gardening workshops, art classes, face painting, fun games and take aways for the kids, outside vendors… and more.
It is easy to see the Pajama Factory has offered and continues to offer a lot during its 10 years under the auspices of Mark Winkleman and even more into the future.



 

 

 
 
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Bike Safety – What Do You Know?
By Lou Hunsinger Jr.

This is the time of year for bicycling but it is also a time to be aware of safety for those bicycles. Whether you ride for fun, exercise or transportation, Chris Smith, Community Traffic Safety Project, advises you to be “in the know” before you go.
A bicycle is a vehicle. As a bicyclist, you share the same responsibilities as the drivers and riders of other vehicles — to follow the ‘rules of the road.’ You must stop at stop signs, obey traffic signs/signals and go with the flow of traffic.
Ride with traffic. Riding against traffic is both unsafe and against the law. Ride on the right with traffic, where traffic expects to see you. A driver may not see you.
Bikes are smaller than cars and drivers are expecting to see larger vehicles, not bicycles. So make yourself visible. Wear bright reflective clothes — even in the daytime. Expect NOT to be seen.
Always wear a helmet. On city streets or bike paths, on pavement or in dirt, in or away from traffic — a head injury is a head injury, regardless of where you ride. Anywhere, any ride — wear a helmet!
You can be arrested for DUI on a bicycle. If you bicycle under the influence of alcohol, prescription or over-the-counter medication, or any drug or combination of drugs that impairs your ability to ride safety, you can be arrested for DUI.
“If you ride ‘hands free,’ against traffic, without a helmet, in dark colors or at night, impaired, ‘under the influence’ of electronics, or if you buzz through intersections,” adds Smith, “you are riding unsafely.” Smith advises you to “ride as though your life depends on it!”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
     
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