Mill Record Bridgeport

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Complex Name (Common)
Connecticut Electric Mfg. Co.
Complex Name (Historic)
  • Connecticut Electric Mfg. Co.
Address or Location
1220 Connecticut Avenue, Bridgeport
County
Fairfield
Historic Designation
Associated Mill Community
n/a
Historic Information

Companies Associated w/Complex

  • Allied Elevator Cos. Present (2016)
  • Bridgeport Thermostat Co. 1936-1957
  • Connecticut Electric Mfg. Co. 1912-1936
  • Honeycomb Co. late-20th c.-1969

Use (Historic)

Largest Documented Workforce

300 (1912).

Historic Narrative

The Connecticut Electric Manufacturing Company was formed in the Bantam section of Litchfield, Connecticut in 1906. The business was organized by three brothers, A.H., I.B., and James Trumbull, for the manufacture of electrical products such as fittings, switches, and sockets. The company relocated to Bridgeport, Connecticut, in December 1912 after a new factory was erected for the firm at the corner of Connecticut and Bishop Avenues. The plant was of the most modern design and all of the machinery was powered by electricity. The company employed between 275 and 300 hands, half of which were young women. During its first few years in Bridgeport, the business grew at an incredible rate of almost 40 percent per year. By 1916, annual sales totaled $1.25 million. I.B. Trumbull was killed when German U-Boats sank the Lusitania in May 1915, and James Trumbull died in April 1916, thus leaving A.H. Trumbull in sole control of the firm. The business continued to thrive through the 1920s, however, by the early 1930s the firm had fallen into receivership and its factory placed in foreclosure. In 1936, Frank Alley, a former employee at the Hart and Hegeman Electric Company of Hartford, Connecticut, purchased the plant’s equipment and joined with George E. Fitzgerald of Bridgeport; David Cramer of Torrington, Connecticut; and Walter Howe of Litchfield, Connecticut to reform the business and relocate it from Bridgeport back to Bantam where a plant formerly operated by the Trumbull-Vanderpool Company was occupied. The Bridgeport factory then passed to the Bridgeport Thermostat Company, a division of the Bridgeport Brass Company that was spun-off and sold to the Robertshaw Thermostat Company in 1936. The Bridgeport Thermostat Company operated as an independent division of the Robertshaw Thermostat Company and manufactured thermostats for a variety of applications up until the outbreak of the Second World War, when the majority of work was switched over to ammunition production. The company resumed thermostat manufacturing in the post-war period and occupied the plant until 1957, when the Bridgeport Thermostat Company relocated to a new $2,000,000 facility in Milford, Connecticut. After the departure of the Bridgeport Thermostat Company, the Connecticut Avenue plant was acquired by the Honeycomb Company, an aluminum fabrication firm that specialized in the manufacture of aircraft parts. The Honeycomb Company remained in Bridgeport until 1967, when the business was moved to Sarasota, Florida. This was likely due to the fact that the head of the company, Daniel Judge, was also associated with the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus, which wintered in Sarasota. The Bridgeport factory has since housed an assortment of small rental tenants, including the Allied Elevator Companies, which presently occupy a portion of the plant.

Architectural Information

Number of Existing Buildings

Roughly seven (7) adjoining primary blocks.

Dates of Construction

1912, ca. 1915, ca. 1920, ca. 1940.

Architect

n/a

Builder

n/a

Building Type

Architectural Description

The former Connecticut Electric Manufacturing Company plant is comprised of seven adjoining primary blocks located on the east side of Bishop Avenue, at the northeast corner of Bishop Avenue’s intersection with Connecticut Avenue. The oldest and original section of the plant consists of four blocks situated at the southern end of the complex near Connecticut Avenue. These were erected in 1912 and are of brick pier construction. The main manufacturing building is a three-story, 48’ x 150’ red brick block with rectangular window openings, concrete window sills, a brick cornice with red brick corbels, tile coping, and a flat roof. A red brick stairtower is located within the northeast corner of the building and its flat-roofed fourth story rises above the remainder of the block. A three-story, 45’ x 50’ red brick office block adjoins the main manufacturing building’s west elevation. The office is identical in detail to the manufacturing block, however, several examples of the plant’s original paired six-over-one double-hung wood windows survive on its west (side) elevation. The plant’s primary entrance is located at the eastern end of the building’s south (front) elevation in the fourth (from the west) of the nine bays found on the unified façade of the two adjoining blocks. The entry has been remodeled in the Art Deco style, this likely when the factory changed hands in 1936. The present design consists of a poured concrete stair leading to a metal and glass door flanked by plain concrete panels and glass block sidelights. The transom above consists of both an operational hopper-style window and four glass blocks. A concrete door surround frames the entry. This consists of fluted pilasters and a polygonal concrete entablature. The tops of the pilasters bear plaques decorated with the embossed image of knights on horseback. Painted lettering in the entablature reads, “ALLIED/INDUSTRIAL BUILDING/1225.” The last blocks erected as part of the original factory include two red brick blocks adjoining the north elevation of the office and west elevation of the original manufacturing building. These stand two and one story tall and each measure roughly 7’ x 16’. They are identical in detail to the other 1912 blocks and housed the factory’s mechanical and boiler rooms. The first addition to the plant was completed ca. 1915. This consisted of a new three-story, 48’ x 150’ manufacturing block adjoining the north elevation of the original factory. It is identical in detail to the 1912 construction and there is barely an interruption of the side (east and west) elevations where the two blocks connect. A one-story, 116’ x 65’ wood-frame storage building was erected adjoining the ca. 1915 block’s west elevation ca. 1920. This has vertical wood board walls and a side-gabled roof. Several secondary blocks adjoin its west and south elevation and provide access via a mix of roll-up and side-hinged loading doors. The final addition to the plant was erected adjoining the ca. 1915 block’s west elevation ca. 1940. It is one-story, 22’ x 110’ red brick block with brick piers, small rectangular window openings, and a flat roof.

Exterior Material(s)

Structural System(s)

Roof Form

Roof Material

Power Source

Condition

Fair

Condition Notes

The complex is in fair condition. The majority of the original windows have been removed or replaced, however, overall, the facility appears to be well maintained.

Property Information

Specific Location

One parcel located on the east side of Bishop Avenue, at the northeast corner of Bishop Avenue’s intersection with Connecticut Avenue.

Adjacent To

Exterior Visible from Public Road?

Yes

Parcel ID / Assessor Record Link

Acreage

1.02

Use (Present)

Sources

Form Completed By

Lucas A. Karmazinas

Date

01/22/2016

Bibliography

  1. List of Connecticut Manufacturers, 1922, 1924, 1930, 1932.
  2. Directory of Connecticut State Manufacturers, 1936, 1939.
  3. Industrial Directory of Connecticut, 1947.
  4. Register of War Production Facilities in Connecticut, 1951.
  5. Map of Fairfield County; Baker, William A., 1854.
  6. Atlas of the City of Bridgeport; J.B. Beers & Co., 1876.
  7. Atlas of the City and Town of Bridgeport; G.M. Hopkins & Co., 1888, 1917.
  8. Atlas of Bridgeport; Kershaw, William H., 1910.
  9. Sanborn Map Company, 1884, 1888, 1898, 1904, 1913, 1939, 1950.
  10. Aerial Survey of Connecticut, 1934, 1951, 1965, 1970, 1985.
  11. Bridgeport City Directory, Various editions.
  12. Hartford Courant, 1936, 1941, 1957, 1966.
  13. St. Petersburg Times, 1955.
  14. A History of the Old Town of Stratford and the City of Bridgeport; Orcutt, Samuel, 1886.
  15. History of Bridgeport and Vicinity; S.J. Clarke Publishing, 1917.
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Photographer

Lucas A. Karmazinas

Photography Date

01/22/2016