By Debbie Burke
A disused, abandoned building that once housed International Boiler Works has, of late, become a haven, and heaven, for students skipping school, individuals with dubious intentions, and local photographers who recently gathered to record its surprisingly beautiful interior and surroundings.
As photographer Barbara Courouble (the official author) puts it: “I would like to shine a light on the photography crew and the idea of doing more local historical/photographical books. I think it would be a nice touch for the community.”
The book that resulted from their visits to IBW, The International Boiler Works Company, Art Through Photography: A Collaboration of Photographic Styles Coordinated by Barbara Courouble, is an artistic accounting of the building’s past and present. What strikes the eye first, though, is the sheer and wonderful saturation of gorgeous color. At the risk of overanalyzing this visual anthology, it might appear that it’s only possible to capture such beauty if there is hope for the building’s future, so lovingly and tenderly are the images captured and discussed. Each one of the 15 photographers (all based in or with direct ties to the Pocono Mountain region) offers a personal narrative on what specific features inspired him or her. The photographers found themselves standing in the same structure, but brought out an impressive diversity of detail and perspective.
A well-researched introduction on the building’s roots informs the reader of its many incarnations. Built in 1886, it rose again and again despite fires, relocations, additions, rebuilds, and a parade of new owners through the decades. Within its confines many different products were built: boilers, automobiles, hoists, tanks, spark arrestor silencers (used in combustion engines, particularly with maritime applications), thermal liquid heaters, and more.
Although it remains a diamond in the rough to some, there is still much cleanup ahead for the site to remove contamination from its industrial past. The Pocono Mountains Economic Development Corporation describes it as a “rail-served, industrial-zoned property…an attractive site for redevelopment.” This book should help serve as a reminder of the heritage of the area and a glimmer of what it may be in its next form.
For more information on the book, contact Barbara Courouble at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to her at 37 Evergreen Lake, Kunkletown, PA 18058.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: All photos associated with this story are copyright reserved for the photographers and may not be used without express written permission from the photographers.)
Cover photo (untitled) by Robert Ace