BOOK SIGNING: Brass Valley: The Fall of an American Industry
Thursday, December 10, 11:30 to 2:00 PM
John Bale Book Store
158 Grand Street
PHOTOGRAPHER’S JOURNAL: Yesterday’s image showed the American Brass mothership mills in Waterbury where the surviving tube mill was the last functioning building of the South End mill complex, and one of the places in which I photographed active production. Here is the other. This is American Brass in Ansonia where the casting house still functioned turning out large billets of metal to be processed by the tube mill upstream in Waterbury.
The large Ansonia site is similarly distinguished in pedigree as the Waterbury site. It is descended from the brass company initially founded by Anson Phelps and Sheldon Smith when they built Birmingham in the 1830s. Later it moved to this site when Anson Phelps built Ansonia. It was known here as Ansonia Brass and Copper, and when I photographed the casting house here, until 2013, it was known as Ansonia Copper & Brass.
The Casting House is the building on the right with the tin can sculpture crawling up the side. Directly across the bridge is the Powerhouse that drove all the mills. On the left we see the front of the Rod Mill which extends a long way beyond the edge of the picture. A second row of buildings across the rail corridor includes a flat-wire mill and an extrusion mill, as well as a bunch of other shops and warehouse spaces, and at the very top is the corporate office building and labs. The canal, that Anson Phelps paid for and Almon Farrel dug to bring power to the new industrial village of Ansonia, runs through this property still.
Both the site shown yesterday and this site are facing imminent demolition. I have been following and photographing the deconstruction of both sites. These two images mark the start of a series of images I’m titling, “Postindustrial."