Mill Record Bridgeport

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Complex Name (Common)
Cornwall and Peterson Mfg. Co
Complex Name (Historic)
  • Cornwall and Peterson Mfg. Co
Address or Location
1730 Commerce Drive, Bridgeport
County
Fairfield
Historic Designation
Associated Mill Community
n/a
Historic Information

Companies Associated w/Complex

  • Aerosol Techniques, Inc. ca. 1960s
  • Bridgeport Pressed Steel Corp. ca. 1950-ca. 1960
  • Bright Light Reflector Co. ca. 1950-ca. 1960
  • Cornwall and Peterson Mfg. Co. ca. 1898-ca. 1940
  • Drug Service, Inc. ca. 1960s
  • Mitchell Bros. Inc. 1941-ca. 1950

Use (Historic)

Largest Documented Workforce

100+

Historic Narrative

The Cornwall and Patterson Manufacturing Company was organized in Bridgeport, Connecticut on October 1, 1879. The firm was founded by Jesse B. Cornwall, a former clerk at the Bridgeport Lock Company, and James T. Patterson, the proprietor and founder of the Bridgeport Organ Works. The company specialized in the production of piano and organ hardware, in addition to manufacturing a small line of baseball goods. Its plant initially occupied a space in what was known as the West End Mill (also the home of the Bridgeport Organ Works), this located at the corner of Railroad Avenue and Organ Street, where the company employed roughly 25 hands through the 1880s. Around 1898, the Cornwall and Patterson Manufacturing Company moved from its rented quarters in the West End Mill and occupied a newly erected factory located at the corner of State Street and Bedford Avenue. This was enlarged on several occasions during the first two decades of the 20th century and by the mid-1920s the company employed over 100 workers. The household piano industry reached an apex during the 1920s and was dealt a serious blow by onset of the Great Depression in 1929. As a result, the Cornwall and Patterson Manufacturing Company slipped into receivership during the mid-1930s. The firm was dissolved and then reorganized late in 1937 after being acquired by the Leach Manufacturing Company of Providence, Rhode Island. The business was subsequently revived and by 1939 employed between 25 and 49 hands in its Bridgeport shop. The State Street plant appears to have been far too large for the reorganized company as the business was moved to a smaller leased factory space at 938 Crescent Avenue around 1940. In 1957, the firm was acquired by the renowned piano and organ parts manufacturer Pratt, Read and Company, which by then had consolidated its offices in Ivoryton, Connecticut. The Bridgeport plant was moved to 1155 Railroad Avenue during the late-20th century, and the Pratt-Read Company manufactured screwdrivers at this location until 2007. The Cornwall and Patterson Manufacturing Company’s former State Street factory subsequently passed to a series of short-term occupants, including Mitchell Brothers, Incorporated, underwear manufacturers, during the 1940s; the Bridgeport Pressed Steel Corporation and the Bright Light Reflector Company during the 1950s; and Drug Service, Incorporated and Aerosol Techniques, Incorporated during the 1960s. The plant has since been converted for use as offices, artist studio space, and as a storage facility for a building materials retailer.

Architectural Information

Number of Existing Buildings

Roughly four (4) adjoining primary blocks.

Dates of Construction

ca. 1898, 1902, ca. 1910, ca. 1915, ca. 1920.

Architect

n/a

Builder

n/a

Building Type

Architectural Description

The former Cornwall and Patterson Manufacturing Company plant consists of roughly four adjoining primary blocks located on the west side of State Street, at the northwest corner of State Street’s intersection with Bedford Avenue. The original factory consists of a one-story, 62’ x 500’ red brick block erected along Bedford Avenue ca. 1898. The building is of brick pier construction and has large segmental-arched window openings with stone sills and paired fenestration, corbelled brick headers above the window bays, tile coping, and a flat roof. A round water tower with a conical roof adjoins the northeast side of this building. A two-story, five-sided, red brick office and shipping addition adjoins the original plant’s east elevation. This was originally built as a one-story block in 1902 and was raised to two stories around 1920. The addition measures 98’ x 80’ on its longest (north and west) sides and has frontage on Fairfield Avenue, State Street, and Bedford Avenue. The first-story construction has brick piers with stone caps, both segmental-arched and rectangular window openings with stone sills (and in the latter case stone lintels), and a denticulated cornice. The second story has rectangular window openings with stone sills and lintels, a stone cornice supported by red brick corbels, a red brick parapet, and concrete coping. The rectangular window openings on both floors have transoms above the double-hung sash, these comprised of two rectangular fixed sash, each divided into eight triangular lights.

A one-story, 100’ x 95’ red brick addition was erected adjoining the north elevation of the ca. 1898 block around 1910. This housed a plating room, wire storage, and a buffing and polishing shop, and is identical in construction details to the original building. The block was expanded to the west ca. 1920, whereupon the footprint was increased to 158’ x 100’. A one-story, 146’ x 156’ red brick addition was erected adjoining the western end of the original factory’s north elevation and the west elevation of the ca. 1910/ca.1920 building around 1920. This housed shipping and storage operations and has a covered loading dock on its east elevation. The building has a concrete foundation, large rectangular window openings with concrete sills, a plain corbelled brick cornice, red brick parapet, tile coping, and a flat roof with five nearly full-width sawtooth monitors.

Exterior Material(s)

Structural System(s)

Roof Form

Roof Material

Power Source

Condition

Fair

Condition Notes

The plant is in fair condition. A majority of the original windows have been replaced or the openings infilled or reduced in size, however, overall, the factory appears structurally sound and well maintained.

Property Information

Specific Location

One 3.79-acre parcel (1730 Commerce Drive) located on the west side of State Street, at the northwest corner of State Street’s intersection with Bedford Avenue.

Adjacent To

Exterior Visible from Public Road?

Yes

Parcel ID / Assessor Record Link

Acreage

3.79

Use (Present)

Sources

Form Completed By

Lucas Karmazinas

Date

1/22/2016

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. New York Times, 1937.
  13. A History of the Old Town of Stratford and the City of Bridgeport; Orcutt, Samuel, 1886.
  14. History of Bridgeport and Vicinity; S.J. Clarke Publishing, 1917.
Representative View(s)Click on image to view full file



Photographer

Lucas Karmazinas

Photography Date

1/22/2016