History of College involvement (1921-1999)
Go to Factory History (1848-1921)

The Henry Woods' Sons Company continued to operate well into the twentieth century although the company declared bankruptcy in 1921. A friendly serpent with a paintbrush tail cavorting near a Wellesley athlete reveals early student awareness of the potential hazards of industrial encroachment on the College in this excerpt from a whimsical 1924 map made by four alumnae. (The complete map may be found in the College Archives)
Following the College purchase of the abandoned paint factory site in 1932 and the subsequent razing of the buildings, little attention was paid to this beautiful wooded portion of the Campus until the mid 1970's.  Increased environmental awareness has led to extensive studies of the paint factory residues and removal of hazardous materials from it. The College Office of Public Affairs provides up-to-date information on these operations. Reports on recent College efforts to monitor and clean-up the site may also be found in the Science Center Library. The College has worked closely with the Massachusetts Department of Department of Environmental Protection in investigating and monitoring the paint factory site. Highlights of these efforts are described here along with photographs of remnants of the former Henry Wood's Sons Company.
Picture of Paintshop Pond, July 1999

Stone remnants from the original Paint factory (foreground) with water flowing toward Lake Waban. (July 1999 Photo)

Paintshop Pond is seen in the background with the remnants of the brickwork of a bridge leading to the site of the former paint factory in the foregrounds. (July 1999 Photo)


Brief Chronology of Recent Activities to Study and Clean-Up the Residues Of the former Henry Wood's Sons Company


Soils samples from waste pigment piles collected and analyzed.  The testing showed high levels of residual metals. Exposed pigment piles covered, an earth berm constructed around a former settling basin, and a fence and warning signs installed. 


College begins comprehensive environmental assessment and meetings with MA DEQE leading to twelve years of testing and remediation.


Installation and use of wells and piezometers to monitor to chemical species in ground waters and its flow, respectively. Samples were obtained and analyzed from test pits, surface and deep soil borings, sediments and surface waters. Analytical data resulting from these studies are available on the data page of this site. These tests revealed the presence of high levels of lead and chromium in the surface and subsurface soils near Paintshop Pond and in some parts of Waban Brook and Lake Waban.


Soils from waste piles and settling basin containing the highest levels of contaminants were removed and the areas covered with impermeable cover to limit future groundwater contamination


Studies completed showing that Lake Waban is safe for recreational use and meets the Massachusetts Clean Water Drinking Standards


Continued monitoring and investigations of Paintshop Pond area, Lake Waban, and on-campus sites for residues possible coming from former paint factory. 


Other cleanup and containment efforts:

-Application of 600 tons of sand to swimming areas in Lake Waban to minimize contact with and migration of any contaminated segments.

-Removal of 250 tons of pigment-contaminated soil from the site of the May Hemenway Gymnasium

-Removal of lead-contaminated soil from west-side of Alumnae Hall

-Installation of fencing around Paintshop Pond and other parts of former paint factory and posting signs informing of the presence of lead chromate

-Capping of portions of jogging path to minimize contact with contaminated soils

-Conducting human health risk assessment of the Paint Factory Site and Lake Waban

-Monitoring the College water supply which has shown it to be meet EPA drinking water standards.

Additional recent pictures of the former Paint Factory site and Paintshop Pond:

Vegetation growing over a pit from which paint waste was removed and replaced with topsoil. (July 1999 Photo)

Vegetation growing on the site of one of the test pits near Paintshop Pond. (July 1999 Photo)

Wetlands surrounding the Paintshop Pond (July 1999 Photo)

Looking north across Paintshop Pond showing water entering from Morse's Pond
(July 1999 photo)

References and Additional Reading

1. The Wellesley College Illuminator, March 1998, p. 2-3. Item number A84a.
2. Fact Sheet on Paintshop Pond issued by Wellesley College of Public Affairs, July 9, 1991
3. Fact Sheet on Paintshop Pond issued by Wellesley College of Public Affairs, November 14, 1997.