Commonwealth Preservation Group

Sylvania Plant Historic District Fredericksburg, VA

The Sylvania Plant Historic District, listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2020, is a 40-acre industrial campus located in the northeast corner of Spotsylvania County just south of the Fredericksburg city line with an intact collection of industrial and commercial buildings, warehouses, and other industrial resources. The district is generally composed of one-to three-story masonry buildings representative of commercial vernacular, industrial commercial, and stripped classical style architecture with Art Deco influences, primarily constructed between 1930 and 1962. Several buildings in the district feature intact examples of the patented sawtooth roof technology designed by prominent architecture and engineering firm, The Ballinger Company. The district includes approximately 29 contributing resources.

The Sylvania Plant Historic District is locally significant under Criterion A in the area of Industry as one of America’s most prolific manufacturers of cellophane products during the twentieth century. The popularity of packaged foods and commercial demand for the product allowed the company to not only survive, but grow and profit during the Great Depression. The long-term success of the Sylvania Plant is also representative of the evolution of consumer culture and the food packaging industry through the 1970s. The historic district is also significant under Criterion C for Architecture for its association with The Ballinger Company, and the use of super-span sawtooth construction. The Sylvania Plant Historic District has a period of significance ranging from 1929 to 1970, but remained a significant contributor to Fredericksburg’s industrial capacity and the region’s economy until its closure in 1978.

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