Mill Record Deep River

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Complex Name (Common)
Pratt, Read & Company Factory Complex
Complex Name (Historic)
  • Pratt, Read & Co.
Address or Location
12 Bridge Street, Deep River
County
Middlesex
Historic Designation
Associated Mill Community
Historic Information

Use (Historic)

Largest Documented Workforce

n/a

Historic Narrative

For historical significance see National Register application: http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Text/84001117.pdf In the first half of the 19th century many small shops in Deep River made ivory products, such as combs, sewing implements and cabinet hardware. Numerous partnerships formed and dissolved until stability was achieved in 1863 when Julius Pratt and Co., George Read and Co. and Pratt Brothers Co. merged to become Pratt, Read and Co. This firm, larger than all its predecessors, competed with the comparably sized Comstock, Cheney and Co. for dominance in the ivory products market until 1936, when they merged. This new company used the Pratt, Read name and the Comstock, Cheney factory. In 1866 Pratt, Read built a new factory [on Main Street], mostly for production of keyboards for pianos and organs. That factory burned in 1881 and, after the town abated the company's taxes, the extant factory was built. Outbuildings included forge and box shops, storehouses, ivory bleaching houses and drying houses; most of these were eventually attached to the main building in 1909 to house piano-action manufacture. Since 1936 many firms have occupied the plant. When Pratt, Read and Co. sought to expand in 1909 it looked to a product associated with the firm's principal manufacture of ivory keyboards: piano actions, the wooden mechanisms which connect the keys to the striking hammers. Interest was further piqued by the popularity of player pianos, and Pratt, Read purchased Wasle and Co., a player piano action maker from New York City. A story was added to the keyboard factory and the Wasle equipment installed there. In 1913 the Pratt Read Player Action Co. was chartered and the parent firm built a factory to house it. The Hartford firm of Ford, Buck and Sheldon designed the new plant, which stands just around the corner from the keyboard factory [on Bridge Street]. Player Action Co.'s sales plummeted in the 1920s with the waning popularity of player pianos. The firm filed for bankruptcy in 1930. Pratt, Read and Co. used the building until 1936, since which time it has served a variety of manufacturing purposes. (Roth)

Architectural Information

Number of Existing Buildings

n/a

Dates of Construction

1881, 1913

Architect

n/a

Builder

n/a

Building Type

Architectural Description

Two related complexes on either side of the Deep River: the 1881 factory is on the east side along Main Street and the 1914 factory is on the west side along Bridge Street. For description see National Register application: http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Text/84001117.pdf The 1881 brick structure, originally 4-story and 154' x 50' with a 100' x 38' ell, has segmental-arch lintels and stone sills. The 1913 reinforced concrete Player Action plant, 4- story and 160' x 60', has a flat roof and central stair tower. Single story wings served as the boiler house (60' x 50') and kiln house (50' x 43') for curing wood. (Roth)

Exterior Material(s)

Structural System(s)

Roof Form

Roof Material

n/a

Power Source

n/a

Condition

Good

Condition Notes

n/a

Property Information

Specific Location

Two legal parcels totaling 9.5 acres on the north side of Bridge Street (12 Bridge Street) and the west side of Main Street (92 Main Street)

Adjacent To

Exterior Visible from Public Road?

Yes

Parcel ID / Assessor Record Link

Acreage

9.5

Use (Present)

Sources

Form Completed By

n/a

Date

n/a

Bibliography

  1. Roth, Matthew, et al, Connecticut: An Inventory of Historic Engineering and Industrial Sites (Washington DC: SIA, 1981).
  2. Ransom, David F. 1984. Pratt, Read & Co. Factory Complex National Register Nomination No. 84001117. National Park Service.
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Photographer

n/a

Photography Date

n/a