Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Three Gables and the Wallace Brass Co.

PHOTOGRAPHER’S JOURNAL: Another day and (for those who have been following this series of images) the camera is repositioned so as to still catch the corner of the building with the skirted cupola vents and Pentangle finials (though no vents or finials are in view here) as well as the factory road which cuts across the American Brass site in Ansonia. Shadows like bat wings, cast by the low, winter sunlight claw the rutted pavement of the factory road that crosses from Liberty Street down to the riverside. Two rusty scrap bins, on the teeth of a fork lift, are being brought from the casting house to an uncertain future. Once hundreds of these steel hampers, numbered and tracked, circulated between mills carrying scrap metal back to the foundry.

On the 1868 map of Ansonia, this passageway lies at the boundary between “Wallace and Sons Brass Works,” in the north and “Phelps Brass Works,” in the south. The three gables of the north wall lie along the old property boundary. Both companies were founded here in 1845. They prospered and grew side by side through the Civil War. The canal still flows here, that Almon Farrel built for Anson Phelps in 1845 to power his new industrial village which he called, “Ansonia," but the canal was long ago buried underground. The steel girders that line the sides of the road hint at the whole bridge now half sunk in a sea of asphalt.

By 1884, the map shows that  the bridge was a “covered bridge,” that crossed the canal here. It led into the main yard of Phelps brass works, on that map identified as Ansonia Brass and Copper. The map shows the “coke shed” lies ahead, but if you turn right, you will soon find, “the office.” 

On the map, the coke shed is hard up against the wall of a large building containing the the “Rolling Mill" and “General Mach’y,” facilities of Wallace & Sons, brass works. The back section also contains iron and annealing, “furn’s” whose forms are carefully marked. These facilities fill the area roughly covered by the three mills on the right side of this picture. 

By the 1906 map, both the Phelps mills and the Wallace mills are all labeled as, “American Brass Company,” and one can plainly see on that map the outline of three great gable ends facing onto the crossway through American Brass from Liberty Street to the riverside.

[American Brass, Ansonia]


Jan 28 @ 7 PM - New Britain Industrial Museum (snow date Feb. 4)
Feb 16 @ 7 PM - Woodbury Public Library (snow date, Mar. 1)
Feb 25 @ 6 PM - Ansonia Public Library
Throughout March - Photos on exhibit at Silas Bronson Library, Waterbury
Mar 10 @ 6 PM - Silas Bronson Library (snow date, Mar 14)
Throughout April - Photos on exhibit at Hagaman Library, East Haven, CT
Apr 27 @  6:30 PM - Hagaman Memorial Library, East haven
November 12 - January, 2017 - Photos on exhibit Minor Public Library, Roxbury
Nov. 12 @    - Minor Public Library, Roxbury, CT


Ginnie said...

The shadow-play captivates me, Ted, as do the gables...but it is your ability to wordsmith that crowns the glory of it all!

Ginnie said...

I just wish I could make it to ONE of your exhibits!!! Maybe one year we will fly to Atlanta via whatever is the closest airport to you. HA!

Emery Roth II said...

Fly? Although I love flying, wish I had wings, Jand and I have sworn off airports. Now, driving to Atlanta might be a possibility, and think of all the things to photograph in the middle. Thanks for your enthusiastic comments. Such words keep me going.

Ginnie said...

What's the closest airport to YOU, Ted? Just out of curiosity....

Emery Roth II said...

Roxbury airport - single props only.

Closest for real airplanes: either Springfield-Windsor Locks or Westchester County Airport.