Mill Record Bridgeport

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Complex Name (Common)
Pembroke Laundry Co.
Complex Name (Historic)
  • Pembroke Laundry Co.
Address or Location
394 Madison Avenue, Bridgeport
County
Fairfield
Historic Designation
Associated Mill Community
n/a
Historic Information

Companies Associated w/Complex

  • Pembroke Laundry & Cleaners, Inc. 1946-ca. 2012
  • Pembroke Laundry Co. 1913-1946
  • Pembroke Steam Laundry 1904-1913

Use (Historic)

Largest Documented Workforce

Unknown.

Historic Narrative

The Pembroke Laundry Company was organized in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1903. The business was founded by two men with prior experience with Bridgeport laundry businesses, Charles J. Berger, the proprietor of the Star Steam Laundry; and Frank X. Berger, a driver at the W. Steam Laundry. Charles and Frank Berger partnered with John S. Connor, a former salesman at the Bridgeport Paper Box Company, to form Berger, Connor, and Berger, which established the Pembroke Steam Laundry at 197 Housatonic Avenue in Bridgeport early in 1903. The partners also opened a branch office of the Pembroke Steam Laundry that same year, this located at 48 Fairfield Avenue in Bridgeport. Unsurprisingly, Berger, Connor, and Berger claimed that the services of its Pembroke Steam Laundry were the ‘Best Laundry Service in the City,’ however, curiously, the firm also advertised that ‘Theatrical troupes and traveling men can get accommodations at a few hours notice.’ The business remained on Housatonic Avenue just one year before a new dedicated laundry plant was erected at 394 Madison Avenue in Bridgeport, where the company would remain in operation for over 100 years. The business was formally incorporated in 1913, by which time it had been separated from the operations of Berger, Connor, and Berger. Frank Berger and John Connor remained associated with the Pembroke Steam Laundry as president and secretary-treasurer, respectively, however, the activities of the original parent company appear to have been redirected towards management of the aforementioned Star Steam Laundry, which they also operated. By 1915, Charles Berger had left the partnership in order to enter the hotel business, thus leaving the reorganized firm of Berger and Connor to manage the laundry. The Pembroke Laundry Company continued to operate until 1946, whereupon the business was reincorporated as the Pembroke Laundry and Cleaners, Inc. The latter entity remained in operation on Madison Avenue until the early 2010s.

Architectural Information

Number of Existing Buildings

Four (4) adjoining primary blocks.

Dates of Construction

1904, ca. 1920, 1950, ca. 1955.

Architect

n/a

Builder

n/a

Building Type

Architectural Description

The former Pembroke Laundry Company plant is comprised of four adjoining primary blocks located on the north side of Madison Avenue, roughly 50’ northwest of Madison Avenue’s intersection with Madison Court. The two original blocks were erected in 1904. These consist of a two-story, 32’ x 98’ red brick main building, and a one-story, 32’ x 22’ red brick boiler house. Both blocks have segmental-arched window openings with stone sills, a corbelled red brick cornice that forms projecting hoods over the main building’s second-story windows, and a red brick façade (south elevation) parapet with tile coping. The original first-story windows consist of twelve-over-twelve double-hung wood sash, while surviving original windows on the second story consist of six-over-six double-hung wood sash. The main building has a front-facing gable roof with two small gabled skylights, while the boiler house roof is flat. A one-story, 24’ x 84’ red brick block adjoins the main building’s west (side) elevation. The eastern 9’ of this block was built as part of the original plant, however, this was expanded to its present footprint around 1920. The details of the original section match those of the main block, while the addition has a concrete foundation, rectangular window openings with concrete sills and twelve-over-twelve double-hung wood sash, concrete coping, and a flat roof. The main entrance to the plant is located on the addition’s façade (south elevation), this consisting of a rectangular opening with a metal and glass door and a small transom. A backlit sign above the entry and storefront reads, ‘PEMBROKE CLEANERS/COMPLETE LAUNDRY and DRY CLEANING SERVICE.’ A one-story, 25’ x 38’ wood-frame shipping block was built adjoining the north elevation of the ca. 1920 addition and west elevation of the 1904 boiler house in 1950. This addition has a concrete foundation, asphalt shingle siding, rectangular pass-through and loading doors, and a flat roof. Roughly five years later, another addition was built adjoining the plant’s north elevation. This is a one-story, 60’ x 34’ wood-frame block with a concrete foundation, asphalt shingle siding, rectangular pass-through and loading doors, and a flat roof.

Exterior Material(s)

Structural System(s)

Roof Form

Roof Material

Power Source

Condition

Fair, Deteriorated

Condition Notes

The complex is in fair to deteriorated condition. The majority of the original windows throughout the plant survive, however, many are in dire need of rehabilitation. The plant appears structurally sound, however, the roof shows signs of failure in several areas.

Property Information

Specific Location

One 0.26-acre parcel (394 Madison Avenue #396) located on the north side of Madison Avenue, roughly 50’ northwest of Madison Avenue’s intersection with Madison Court.

Adjacent To

n/a

Exterior Visible from Public Road?

Yes

Parcel ID / Assessor Record Link

Acreage

0.26

Use (Present)

Sources

Form Completed By

Lucas A. Karmazinas

Date

01/19/2016

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. Bridgeport Sunday Herald, 1949.
  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 A. Karmazinas

Photography Date

01/19/2016