This week’s blank wall covers nearly an entire block of East Main Street and is home to family-owned Service Tanks Corporation. Even though the wall casts a shadow on nearly 400 feet of sidewalk, there is something about this building that we love. Maybe it’s the faded and mottled blue fiberglass cladding or the massive purity of form of the entire structure, or maybe its the sheer scale of the wall that seems to go on forever. Whatever it is, this wall plays on our psyche with its monotonous tone.
Blue fiberglass mystique aside, the building still creates a massive dead zone in the gentrifying East Village and a visual barrier for Butchertown to the north. The constant metal-on-metal pounding, grating, and clashing that goes on inside is also unsettling to the passer-by. The building is an anachronism is the modern urban area, a throwback to the 20th century when gigantic industrial warehouses engulfed city blocks in the ever changing clangor of the industrial city.
The building is not the business. Sure the blue Service Tanks building sure looks like one giant service tank, but it is important to distinguish between the building and its occupant. While the urban form of this blank wall is less than ideal, the business and the jobs going on inside are important. The business is one of Louisville’s home-grown-success stories. They have been located on Clay Street since the 1920s. Here’s some info from their web site:
In 1923, Earl F.Greer I, started a small welding shop on Clay Street in downtown Louisville. In 1928, the company incorporated and began manufacturing storage tanks as well as doing repair work and miscellaneous projects. Mr. Earl’s two children joined the company as they reached adulthood.
During World War II, the company operated around the clock manufacturing segmented tank treads for the M-6 army vehicles to assist the war effort. Post war demand for truck tanks and storage tanks resulted in expansion of our facilities to satisfy the customer’s requirements.
The sixties and seventies saw our company grow in capacity and manufacturing quality. Two of the four grandchildren chose Service Welding as their career. The company now occupies one city block with an additional 7-1/2 acres of storage nearby.
- Service Welding & Machine Company (Official Site)