Jamaica Plain, MA Factory


(1892)Near max build-out with some guestimation on building purposes.
Bldg Shop Description
A Office 1st floor bisected between the superintendant,purchasing agent,time keeper and other clerks connected with the manufacturing end on one side. The other had the general manager, cashier, bookkeepers, advertising dept.,etc. The 2nd floor had the drafting dept.(11-15 drafters)
B Boiler Adjoining the engine shop with a nearby steam engine providing plant power.
C Painting & Packing
D Storage Possibly foundry pattern storage and an erecting shop.
E Storage Possibly finished small fans and manufacturing stock.
F Stable A team of up to 25 horses existed to move product around.
G Blacksmith Forges and steam hammers.
H Pipe The sheet iron and tin pipe shop. Large amounts of galvanized pipe was built for hot air distributing as part of the blower system of heating and ventilating.
I Foundry All the brass and iron castings were made here. A pickling room(cleaning castings) was in the rear. 80 molders were employed in addition to core makers, snaggers and other common laborers.
J Fans & Heaters 1st floor was devoted entirely to heaters which were used in connection with the fans for heating and drying purposes. Special tools were used for the tapping of the sectional bases and piping of the sections. On the 2nd floor all the steel plate fan housings were constructed. Fan wheels of all sizes were built on the 3rd floor.
K Engine/Machine Shop All steam engines to drive Sturtevant fans and independant engines were built on the 1st floor. The 2nd floor was a machine shop for pulleys, shafts, boxes and small engine work. Also, a brass work machine shop and tool room. Around 1895 a 3rd story was added to become the electrical dept until the building burned down in 1901.

The Sturtevant Blower Works, as it was known then and still referenced today, was the first Sturtevant factory. Starting with a single building established in 1878 near Jamaica Plain station(now Green St.), the complex would grow in spurts as the value of Sturtevant's products to industry was realized. A wide variety of allied products were added during their 25 year operation; heating, ventilating and drying apparatus, collecting and conveying systems, steam turbines, engines, electric motors and generating sets, fuel economizers and air washers.

Of significance were two US Navy advancements that arose from tests using fans from this factory. The success of the first mechanical draft system(1887) in the USS Alliance and mechanical hull ventilation(1879) in the USS Richmond, both using special modified naval fan designs, led to the rapid decline of sail and passive ventilation. It also turned Sturtevant into an important Navy contractor through WW2.

The Big Move

Improvements on the New Haven RR in 1895, including abolition of many grade crossings and raising of the tracks, required the acqusition and demolition of hundreds of residences and businesses in Boston and the relocation of the Sturtevant Works trackside buildings. While both the engine and fan shops were moved inward by 50', the 3-story was dragged over 300' south to a location behind the foundry with work on the top floors uninterrupted.

This was accomplished by running a powerline attached to the engine shop generator and unwound, spool-wise, from the ground floor of the moving fan shop. This in turn connected to a 2nd floor 20hp electric motor. Power transmission occured by belting to the main line shaft. The green line highlights the powerline in the image.

The whole movement was done by a team of ten horses and capstans pulling on ropes and blocks attached to the building. The building was tied in both directions by heavy iron rods while moving on rollers.

Departure

Ultimately, they left for the same reason they arrived, continued business growth necessitating a modern facility but also hastened by a destructive fire in 1901. In 1903 they moved a few miles south to Hyde Park but didn't totally abandon JP.

The tail end of WW1 brought a very unusual and long forgotton reuse of the factory. The Sturtevant Aeroplane Co., initially organized to build proprietary aircraft designs, switched to sub-contracting upon the US entry into the war. With the government offering large contracts to manufacturers to build spare aircraft parts for the war effort, over 1000 employees were hired and several additional buildings erected to construct biplane parts(wings, struts, etc.). At one point a circus tent was set-up to handle the machinery overflow. All this ended abruptly with the Armistice.

JP Thru The Years(1884-1980)


JP Thru The Years(1884-1980)
Fire Damage(1901-1982)
Fire Damage(1901-1982)
Fire was the scourge of industrial plants in the 19th and 20th centuries and Sturtevant got a full experience in JP. The first major was in 1901, destroying the engine shop and several other buildings. Amazingly, they had the entire plant running again in only 30 days. The fire was an important factor in accelerating their move to Hyde Park in 1903. In 1925, a building on Union St., built during WW1 and occupied by the Atlantic Ice Cream Cone Co., burnt to the ground.

In a period of 2 months(6-7/1982), the JP site got hit hard twice by arson. The now vacant, former American Cellophane Co. factory, lost the office and engine shop. The second was even more destructive, taking out the fan shop, pipe shop and others. What remains, a section of the engine shop,is located at 555 Amory St., within the Jamaica Plain Commerce Center, managed by WCI Realty.


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