BEVERLY, MA, October 2, 2017 — This autumn marks a milestone for Cummings Center, the 2 million-square-foot Beverly campus built on the site of the former United Shoe Machinery Corporation (USMC) complex. Twenty years ago, on October 2, 1997, the renovated Center was the subject of a Wall Street Journal feature story by Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable, and was hailed as “the single most important and generally unrecognized concrete landmark in this country.”
“The Shoe,” as it was called by the generations of employees who worked there from 1899 to 1976, was once the largest concrete structure in the world. In its heyday, it employed a workforce of 5,000 and produced the machinery used to make shoes all over the world. Woburn-based commercial real estate firm Cummings Properties purchased the derelict site in April 1996, and opened its permanent leasing office at the renovated property that fall.
Today, the revitalized “live, work, and play” site is the North Shore’s largest office and technology park, housing more than 550 businesses of all types and sizes, numerous restaurants, and the luxury condominiums of Elliott Landing.
“To have a writer as celebrated as Ms. Huxtable feature Beverly and Cummings Center in the pages of the Wall Street Journal was such a momentous occasion,” said Cummings Properties vice president Steve Drohosky. “To quote Huxtable herself, ‘this is more than a success story, it is a dream come true.’ ”
The Cummings organization maintained ties with Huxtable, a part-time resident of Marblehead, over the years. In 2012, Cummings Foundation funded a fellowship in her honor at Boston Architectural College. She died a year later, at the age of 91.
Beverly resident David Delorey, who was with USMC for 40 years, is considered the unofficial Shoe historian, and still makes himself available to visitors and students who wish to learn more about the site’s past. He visited recently to mark the anniversary of the Wall Street Journal article.
Cummings Properties’ portfolio of 11 million square feet of prime space accommodates offices, healthcare facilities, labs, restaurants, retail storefronts, warehouses, co-working spaces, executive suites, and more. With a portfolio of this size and variety, the firm can meet almost any commercial real estate need from 150 square feet to 300,000 square feet. Its in-house experts in design, construction, and property management offer “one-stop shopping” for the business community.