Ludlow Valve

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Ludlow Valve.jpgAnother beautiful letterhead from the Biggert Collection, this one from the Ludlow Valve Manufacturing Co. of Troy. The Biggert Collection actually has three pieces of correspondence between Jason H. Caldwell, Vice President of Ludlow Valve, and Mr. Eugene Carroll, Superintendent of the Butte Water Company of Butte, Montana.  Ordering pipe and valves by correspondence was, apparently, a tedious process.

“We received yesterday your blue print of August 23rd, 1900, showing the size of hub wanted on the 26″ Check Valve for wood pipe, also the drilling of the 24″ Flange Hydraulic Lift Valve. On looking over this drilling we find that the bolt holes come so close to the metal in the body of the valve back of the flange, that you will be unable to use bolts and nuts and stud bolts will have to be used. The valve which we propose furnishing on this order is from our List #5 1/2, and the standard flange for same is 34″, while the flange you call for is only 31 1/4″ in diameter. We, of course, can make up the valve in accordance with your wishes, but thought best to call your attention to this matter before going ahead and getting out the body of the valve, as perhaps you do not care to use stud bolts. We enclose you a sketch showing just how the bolt holes will come, which will explain the matter more fully.”  A nice way to ask if you’re sure that’s what you want.

It took a bit of time and some more questions, but on Nov. 21st Mr. Caldwell sent this missive:

“”We are happy to inform you (which we have done by wire to-day) that your complete order goes forward to-day, and that we have requested shipment traced to destination. We trust it will reach you without any delay.”

Ludlow valve.pngLudlow Valve’s office and works were at the foot of Adams Street in Troy. They had another plant in Cohoes. The operations closed abruptly in 1960, putting 500 people out of work. As far as I can see, nothing remains of the old factory.

RPI holds a collection of the papers of Ludlow Valve, and offers a brief history, which you can see after the jump:

Letters from Keeler’s

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Yesterday Hoxsie got so wrapped up in Keeler’s story of ice and fire that I didn’t get to focus on the letterhead from the Biggert Collection.

This letter on hotel stationery from 1901 sends Friend Hatcher some directions:

“I get to write you today to say that I will not be at home until the last of the week Friday or Saturday Expect to be there Friday if all works right. Did you see C.M. [?] Sumner and send those dowel rod down they should be 3/4 inch diameter and are for the trus[s] back of the Board. I suppose he has them in length long enough for two rods up the back of the board. . . .” And there our fascinating conversation about dowels ends.

Keelers letter.jpgA later letterhead gives us a better impression of exactly where Keeler’s stood, showing the streetcars on Broadway and the Capitol in the background. This note from 1917, just a bit more than a year before the end of Keeler’s, smacks of corporate intrigue:

“Dear Sir: He says he has no objection It don’t make any diff. if he has as long as the vote is three to one. If there is nothing doing on this deal I shall employ Amesbury [?] lawyer and have him sell, so as to get my share no matter what it costs. A case of have to with me.”

Keeler’s Hotel

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For a long time, Keeler’s was the hotel in Albany, even among other highly respected establishments such as The Kenmore and The Ten Eyck. As Dr. William Henry Johnson wrote in 1900, “Keeler’s Hotel, corner Broadway and Maiden lane, is one of the finest hotels in the State, complete in every particular.”

Keeler’s was on the west side of  Broadway at Maiden Lane, about where the Arcade Building is today. William Henry Keeler was born in 1841. According to the Albany Rural Cemetery website, “In 1863, he opened Keeler’s Oyster
House at State and Green Streets, which soon became the most popular and famous
oyster house in upstate New York.  He
sold the oyster house to his brother in 1870.  In 1886, he opened a restaurant at 26
Maiden Lane.  In 1890, he purchased
the property from his restaurant through to Broadway and built Keeler’s Hotel.” He died in 1918 and is buried, like any good Albanian, in the Rural Cemetery.

Possibly unique among Albany hoteliers, Keeler had his own supply of ice, a vital necessity in the days before electric refrigeration. An article from the January 1906 edition of the perhaps not widely read “Cold Storage and Ice Trade Journal” reported that that winter’s prospects were “very favorable for Mr. Keeler’s filling his ice houses from his ‘Maceland Kill,’ as it is called, with from 10 to 12 inch ice. Mr. Keeler supplies a large city patronage, aside from his hotel needs. The Maceland Kill, which was formerly the chief supply of the water reservoir that for many years was utilized as the main supply of Albany’s drinking water, is situated about a mile and a half north of Albany and about 2,000 feet west of the river.” The article refers to the Maizelandt Kill (sometimes “Maiselandt”), which was indeed a part (not the chief supply) of the Albany Water Works as it was made up in 1850. keelers.jpg

All that ice didn’t help on June 17, 1919, when Keeler’s Hotel burned spectacularly to the ground. The New York Times wrote:

“The interior of Keeler’s Hotel at Broadway and Maiden Lane, one of Albany’s landmarks and a hostelry known throughout the country, was completely destroyed by fire in less than two hours early today. The 226 patrons, all men, escaped. One fireman was buried beneath falling walls and killed. The loss is estimated at more than half a million dollars. The fire was one of the most spectacular in the city’s history. Parts of the building had stood on the present site for generations and offered fine material for the flames. The blaze, of unknown origin, was discovered soon after 3 A.M. in the cabaret, a building which adjoins the sleeping quarters on the south. For a time it was confined to this building. This gave opportunity to arouse the patrons, many of whom gathered, scantily clad, in the main lobby of the hotel, only to be driven out into the street. Others who remained in their rooms to dress were later forced to throw their suitcases from windows and make their exits by way of the fire escapes.”

As can be seen in the marvelous image of Keeler’s from the Library of Congress Collection and here reproduced very large by, finding a fire escape was not a problem.

Note that right next door to Keeler’s was Cotrell and Leonard, the firm that invented the American cap and gown.

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Julius Saul, clothier of Troy

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The Biggert Collection has preserved this custom commercial envelope from the firm of Julius Saul, depicting his building at 326 River Street in Troy (probably the Atrium parking garage today). Saul was born in Posen, a province of Prussia around 1835 and came to America in his youth. He opened stores in Hudson and Catskill, and then came to Troy in 1867.

Weise’s 1888 “City of Troy and Its Vicinity” says: “At the large clothing house of Julius Saul, any one can be convinced that the greater number of the male inhabitants of Troy buy their clothing ready-made. The attractive, four-story, brick building extends 150 feet to Fourth Street. The spacious sale-room on the first floor is stocked with seasonable coats, vests, and trousers to supply the numerous customers which the popularity of this well-known clothing house attracts. The custom department is on the second floor, where patterns may be selected from the stock of cloths and other stuffs to be made into such fashionable styles as may be desired . . . ToSaul's.png obtain all the advantages of a prosperous clothing manufacturing house, he removed his manufactory from Troy to New York, where he has recently established one of the largest manufactories in the metropolis.” He retired from the business in 1895, living at 401 West End Avenue in New York City, and spent the remainder of his life traveling with his wife and, once she died, a daughter. He died December 15, 1914, and his obituary appeared in the New York Times.

Weise’s book used the same cut as appeared on the envelope, so I’ve presented a clearer version here. A Google search will turn up numerous Julius Saul trade cards.

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John G. Myers

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John G. Myers’s dry goods store was one of the long-time anchors of the North Pearl Street shopping district in downtown Albany. The store was founded in 1870 and was rivaled only by Whitney’s. Today it’s probably best remembered for its terrible collapse in 1905, which killed at least 13 people. The store was rebuilt, and in 1917 merged with Fowler’s of Glens Falls.

On this billhead from 1882, a J.C. Hughson of “1 Lumber Dist.” bought 85 cents worth of lace — 5-1/2 yards worth. The address, not a real street address, makes one wonder if Hughson was outfitting curtains for an office window, but perhaps it was for one of the small residences that did exist down in the lumber district.

Gloeckner & Co. Furniture

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Another glorious billhead from the Biggert Collection, this one from B. Gloeckner & Co., Inc., a furniture dealer at 81-83 South Pearl St. in Albany. It would appear that on Feb. 24, 1915, Mr. J.H Vrooman, Jr. of 294 Hamilton Street bought a refrigerator (#942) for the princely sum of $28.00.

In 1870, the firm of Gloeckner & Wolf, at 115 S. Pearl St., were listed as manufacturers and retailers of furniture, “their stock of Mattresses, Spring and Feather Beds is of the best quality.”

According to the Albany Rural Cemetery’s site, Bernard Gloeckner was born in 1842 in Darmstadt, Germany. He came to the U.S. and served in the Civil War at age 19. He later was chairman of a committee to raise funds for a monument to Civil War General Adolph von Steinwehr at the cemetery. Gloeckner died in 1911 and is buried in the cemetery.

The building, sadly, is long-gone, but was most likely right around Market Street, where the South Mall Expressway construction took out a couple of blocks of once-vital business district.

Here’s an ad from Gloeckner and Wolf in the 1870 Albany directory:

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G.G. Maxon

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G G Maxon.jpgThis billhead is from what was then one of Schenectady’s most prominent businesses, G.G. Maxon & Son. They owned a large grain elevator right up against the Erie Canal, and dealt in flour, grain, meal, feed, produce, lime, cement and more. The elevator was right up against the canal at the corner of Pine and Jefferson streets, pretty much where the Grossman’s Bargain Outlet on Erie Boulevard is today. In fact, I have often wondered if part of the building on that site was part of the original Maxon complex. (The naming of Maxon Road, which is now an eastern continuation of Erie Boulevard, might lead one to mistakenly believe the Maxon elevator was further east than it was. Larry Hart wrote that the road was so-named because it connected to Maxon’s “country” estate, well outside the city at where Van Vranken meets Anthony Street today.) Maxon also had a flour and seed store on Wall Street next to the old train station, in a building known as the Maxon Block. In addition to bulk goods, Maxon started the Schenectady Insurance Company, housed in the Maxon Block, and he served as president of the Mohawk National Bank.

George G. Maxon was born in 1818, and died in 1886. His once-fine home at 404 Union Street, not far from the grain elevator, later became Physicians’ Hospital, then Mercy Hospital, and later was home of the Spencer Business Institute. It still stands. 

This billhead from 1873, part of The Biggert Collection, depicts the elevator with a canal boat docked alongside.


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Fuller, Warren & Co. Stoves

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Fuller, Warren & Co. was a major manufacturer of stoves in Troy, at a time when the Capital District was the national center of stove making. This billhead from The Biggert Collection of Architectural Vignettes on Commercial Stationery shows their riverfront factory in Troy. The works, originally Johnson, Cox & Fuller, and known as the Clinton Foundry, was along the river between Madison and Monroe Streets, an industrial area just below the Poestenkill. Their offices and showroom were at 257 River Street, in the Monument Square area.

They held the patents of Philo Stewart, who had perfected the cast iron kitchen cooking stove in 1838, and sold their stoves as “Stewart’s Air-Tight” summer and winter cooking stoves. As a leader in the industry, they were wary of having their stoves copied outright — so wary that they presented on their billhead this admonition: “For use as a manufactured article and not as a pattern to cast from.” So be warned!

The company went out of business in 1934, and its last president, William H. Warren, died in 1951.

Fort Orange Milling Company

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Rather than a billhead or a receipt, this specimen from The Biggert Collection is a sight draft, a term that has fallen out of favor but which was essentially a check that was payable immediately (rather than at a future date certain), or “at sight.” This was made out to the Loomis Bros. of Granby, Connecticut, for $341.09 to be charged to the account of the Fort Orange Milling Co., a flour roller mill operation on the riverfront. It was signed by Charles B. Woolverton, a member of the firm, June 4, 1890.

A little more than two years later, Mr. Woolverton would be terribly burned in an explosion and fire that brought down the Fort Orange Milling Company on Dec. 19, 1892. As The New York Times reported:

At 12:30 o’clock this afternoon a terrific explosion occurred in the elevator shaft of the Fort Orange Milling Company’s building backing up on the Erie Canal basin. The sparks set fire to the dry grain and flour. In an instant the blaze rushed up the shaft, and before an alarm was sent in the entire structure was a mass of flames. Charles B. Woolverton, a member of the firm, was in the office at the time, and when the explosion occurred started for the rear of the office to close the safe. Before he could get out he was surrounded by flames, and when he managed to fight his way through them he was burned in a most terrible manner.

The fire burned through the afternoon, and as the men of Steamer Company No. 4 were ordered home, the 60-foot-high east wall toppled over, buried seven firemen. Three were killed immediately, and one more was expected to die from his injuries. No one from Fort Orange Milling other than Woolverton was injured; he was, The Times put it, “terribly burned,” and died January 2.