Longtime residents of Cambridgeport remember when various smells would waft through the neighborhood– some good like the piccalilli relish made by the Heinz factory on Memorial Drive between Vassar and Applebee (which no longer exists) and some bad like the manufacturing of soap by John Reardon & Sons located next to Fort Washington.
John Reardon founded his soap and candle manufacturing business in 1856. In addition, the company exported tallow to Europe for soap making, and for a time, made oleomargarine oil and butter. The Reardon Soap Works factory was built in 1878 at the corner of Putnum Avenue and Waverly Street and during its height, employed over 100 workers.
Pearl Street resident Bill Davis’s father, Richard Harding Davis, would tell his son how this area of Cambridgeport came to be known as “Greasy Village” because “the bones and cook fat being transported for rendering at Reardon’s would slip off the horse-drawn trucks and lie in the streets.” When Reardon’s was making soap, “the stink would fill the entire neighborhood.”
-Compiled by Bill Davis and Alyssa Pacy for “If This House Could Talk…” 2011
(Photograph from http://mishayk.wordpress.com/2009/10/11/fort-washington-park-history/)