Mill Record Cromwell

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Complex Name (Common)
J. & E. Stevens Co.
Complex Name (Historic)
  • J. and E. Stevens Co.
Address or Location
48 and 49 Nooks Hill Road, Cromwell
County
Middlesex
Historic Designation
Associated Mill Community
Historic Information

Companies Associated w/Complex

  • J. and E. Stevens Co. 1843-1950

Use (Historic)

Largest Documented Workforce

100 (c.1870s)

Historic Narrative

John and Elisha Stevens were natives of nearby Bristol; their father was thought to be a blacksmith. The men formed the J. and E. Stevens Company in 1843, establishing a foundry to make cast iron hardware and simple toys. In 1859 the company introduced a fire cracker pistol, and began to focus primarily on the manufacture of toys. Around 1866, a new superintendent was hired: Russell Frisbee, himself a designer and pattern maker. Perhaps through Frisbee’s connections, within a couple of years the company was working with a mechanical bank designer named John Hall, of Watertown, Massachusetts., and in 1869 the firm produced the earliest known cast iron mechanical bank, patented in December 1869. Mechanical banks became a mainstay of production throughout the 19th century. Elisha Stevens apparently left the firm soon after, joining with a new partner to form Stevens and Brown c.1871; this venture began to manufacture tin toy steam engines that could actually move using steam power at a factory adjacent to the Cromwell train station. By the mid-1870s J. and E. Stevens Co. produced a wide variety of toys, including cannons and locomotives for boys, and toy stoves and kettles for girls, and claimed to be one of the largest concerns of its type in the country. Stevens employed 100 men and women and poured 1 1/2 to 3 tons of iron per day. After World War I, company production shifted back to cap pistols. Production ceased during World War II with iron being directed to wartime production. J. and E. Stevens Co. was sold in 1950.

Architectural Information

Number of Existing Buildings

Four (4) blocks with modern additions.

Dates of Construction

1843, mid-19th c, c.1900

Architect

n/a

Builder

n/a

Building Type

n/a

Architectural Description

Remains of the complex occupy both sides of Nooks Hill Rd. in an otherwise non-industrial area. North of the road are three brick buildings, including the first Stevens shop, built in 1843. This 1 1/2-story, 75' x 50' building has a gable roof with cupola. Adjacent are two more brick factories, both 2 1/2-story with gable roofs, 83' x 26' and 55' x 35'. These buildings housed deburring (tumbling), grinding, polishing, painting and packing departments, as well as a small foundry where brass patterns were cast from wood prototypes. These patterns were then used to make molds in which the iron toys were cast. The extant iron foundry, 1 1/2-story and 140' x 50' with monitor roof, located across the street, was erected c.1900.(Roth)

Exterior Material(s)

n/a

Structural System(s)

n/a

Roof Form

n/a

Roof Material

n/a

Power Source

n/a

Condition

n/a

Condition Notes

n/a

Property Information

Specific Location

Two legal parcels totaling 2.87 acres on either side of Nooks Hill Road east of the intersection with Shadow Lane

Adjacent To

Exterior Visible from Public Road?

Yes

Parcel ID / Assessor Record Link

Acreage

2.22; 0.65

Use (Present)

Sources
Representative View(s)Click on image to view full file



Photographer

n/a

Photography Date

December 2016