TradeCenter 128 History

Trade Center Park was originally developed as a manufacturing plant for Sylvania Electric Company in the 50's. When that plant and several other Sylvania facilities in Massachusetts closed, the site had a brief stint as Northeast Trade Center. Fairly soon, however, the facility was little more than a site for weekend trade and guns show.

Click to enlarge

Jolly Jim's Flea Markets were the most known events on the site, and longtime area residents still vividly remember special weekend shows. Early Friday evening arrivals for the best bargains often collided with rush-hour traffic. The Route 38 snarl completely blocked the rotary, and traffic was often backed up for up to a quarter mile, both north and south on Route 128. Aerial views of Woburn traffic at Route 38 were not uncommon features on the nightly news.

Other events, such as the quarterly antique shows, were much more placid, and some of the craft shows went along smoothly, also. The knife shows, and sometimes the combined knife and gun shows, however, were problematic in a different way, and sometimes caused considerable neighborhood angst.

While the flea markets seemed to cause the most colossal traffic issues, almost all shows resulted in major parking problems. Haphazard parking on Sylvan Road (named for Sylvania, by the way) caused one set of concerns, while show attendees blocking residents driveways on Pearl Street caused another.

Meanwhile, the site gradually grew more and more distressed, particularly after hazardous waste was discovered there, until Cummings Properties became interested in it in 1995. As it happened, Cummings' late president, James McKeown, grew up and lived half of his life on Pearl Street, next door to the Sylvania plant. He had a special interest in doing a major building restoration almost in his parent's backyard.

On October 2, 1995, he purchased the factory site for Cummings Properties, and also the 7.5-acre residential tract that abutted the rear of the factory. Cummings knocked down the worst part of the factory before completing a major restoration of both the building and the outdoor areas as well, removing lots of outbuildings, outdoor tanks, etc. Cummings also completed a thorough state-supervised cleanup of the hazardous waste, and then sold off the residential lot in 1997 for approximately the same price it paid for it.

Cummings Properties LLC, 200 West Cummings Park, Woburn, MA 781-935-8000