Mill Record East Hampton

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Complex Name (Common)
Bevin Bros. Mfg. Co. DEMO’d
Complex Name (Historic)
  • Bevin Bros. Mfg. Co. DEMO'd
Address or Location
10 Bevin Road, East Hampton
County
Middlesex
Historic Designation
n/a
Associated Mill Community
Historic Information

Companies Associated w/Complex

  • Bell Brothers
  • Bevin Bros. Mfg. Co.

Use (Historic)

Largest Documented Workforce

n/a

Historic Narrative

Bells have been made in East Hampton since 1808, when William Barton moved there and began making Sleigh and hand bells. The oldest surviving bell factory in town is Bevin Brothers' frame shop, in which Abner and Chauncey Bevin started their business in 1832. [With later blocks, it] represents the best-preserved East Hampton bell works and the only one still used for its original purpose. The Veazey and White, Gong Bell Toy and Barton Bell plants have been demolished or extensively altered. The N. N. Hill factory (separate entry) survives under different usage. The Bevin family still owns and operates Bevin Brothers Manufacturing Co. Until 1979 the firm made its cast bells (a small portion of output as now most are stamped from sheet stock) with brass melted in pit furnaces from the late 19th century. Before replacing these with modern equipment Bevin Brothers permitted the Brass Workers' History Project to videotape the casting process. The firm donated a pit-furnace crucible and associated hand tools to Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury. (Roth) Quoted from Bevin Bell website: William Barton is credited with the start of East Hampton’s bell making in 1808. According to Barbara Feist (a direct descendent of William Barton) as she writes in Ring Out for Belltown, ‘When the first bell hit the market, East Hampton was only 65 years old.’ She further proclaims, ‘East Hampton (to be) the oldest bell producer in the America.’ Throughout the past 200 years, more than thirty bell companies have flourished in East Hampton. Companies such as Starr Bros., N.N. Hill and Gong Bell were prominent. Bevin Brothers was the second bell company in town and is now the last one still in business. Of note, William Barton (East Hampton’s first bell maker) and the four, original, bell making Bevin brothers (Abner, Chauncey, William and Philo) are buried in East Hampton’s Lakeside Cemetery. Click here to read more on the history of New England Village ‘Belltown USA.’ William Bevin learned the art of bell making while working as an indentured servant to William Barton when Barton lived and worked in Cairo, New York. Bevin agreed to the terms and tenure of the indenture under the condition that he could use the craft where and when he desired after he left. William Bevin returned to East Hampton, and with brother, Chauncey, continued to make bells, coffee mills, kettles, and cranes. Another brother, Abner, who had also worked in the Barton shop, joined William and Chauncey and, in 1832, they started the Bevin Brothers bell factory, A fourth brother, Philo, later joined the others and, in 1868, Bevin Brothers was incorporated as the Bevin Brothers Manufacturing Company. The brothers made sleigh, hand, house, cow, sheep, door and ship’s bells. They also made up to twenty different sizes of common sleigh bells of the globe, band, or rim variety. Bevin Brothers was reported to produce the first bicycle bells ever made. The first foot bell ever used in an automobile was also produced by Bevin and was patented in 1897. The bell industry flourished through the civil war. The economy in New England was vibrant as goods were produced to supply the troops in the field. In 1901, electric power came allowing bell makers to have a reliable source of power. On May 27th, 2012 our 6th generation family business was dealt a heavy blow. Despite the valiant efforts of more than 200 firefighters, our historic 19th century factory was completely destroyed. 2012 will go down as the most challenging one thus far in our history. When we lost almost everything in the devastating fire on Memorial Day weekend, we were not immediately sure that we would be able to rise from the ashes. However, with the support, encouragement, prayers and patronage of so many folks, we were able to rise up and once again produce bells in America, just 1/4 mile from our original location [former Franco American Thread Co. complex]. Through continued family management and resources, Bevin Brothers looks forward to celebrating our 200th anniversary in 2032.

Architectural Information

Number of Existing Buildings

none

Dates of Construction

n/a

Architect

n/a

Builder

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Building Type

n/a

Architectural Description

(NOW RUINS) The oldest surviving bell factory in town is Bevin Brothers' frame shop, in which Abner and Chauncey Bevin started their business in 1832. The 2 1/2- story, 32' x 20' building, with gable roof and vertical-board siding, was originally located at the former outlet of Bevins' pond, several hundred yards northwest from its present site. When the pond was expanded in the mid-1860s with the building of a new dam downstream on Pocotopaug Creek, the frame shop was relocated adjacent to the factory at the new outlet. The mill's first-floor windows have been replaced and the roof reshingled; many framing members have been replaced or soon will be. New construction in 1880 and 1904-1910 replaced the 1860s buildings. Brick structures erected in 1880 include a 2 1/2-story factory, 188' x 48' with gable roof, a I 1/2-story foundry, 161' x 31' with (present) near-flat roof, and two smaller buildings for tumbling, finishing, packing and storage. The firm added two 2-story brick factories (83' x 72' and 98' x 37') in 1904, and in 1905 the 1880 brick factory gained a I-story, 172' x 26' wing made of poured concrete. The japanning shop (1910), shipping room (1925) and office wing (1932) completed the plant. (Roth)

Exterior Material(s)

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Structural System(s)

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Roof Form

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Roof Material

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Power Source

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Condition

n/a

Condition Notes

Burnt down 2012

Property Information

Specific Location

Access off Bevin Boulevard

Adjacent To

n/a

Exterior Visible from Public Road?

Yes

Parcel ID / Assessor Record Link

Acreage

10.68

Use (Present)

  • Other: Leveled after 2012 fire
Sources

Form Completed By

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Date

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Bibliography

  1. Roth, Matthew, et al, Connecticut: An Inventory of Historic Engineering and Industrial Sites (Washington DC: SIA, 1981).
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Photographer

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Photography Date

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