Conclusion Of The Vintage Images Tour Of The Brass City

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To a greater extent than the other neighborhoods of Waterbury, the South End has been a place of mixed use with factories, housing and commercial activity in close proximity.  The South End was home to some of the city’s most densely occupied housing and one of the most diverse mixtures of immigrant traditions.  French, Lebanese, Albanian, Portuguese, and Latino communities joined the long-term Irish and Italian residents in the South End after World War II. 

The South End in 1879. The Abrigador was the Irish neighborhood, and the Washington Hill and Hopeville neighborhoods did not exist yet. Sylvan Avenue was Stone Street, what later became Washington Street was an unnamed street connecting Baldwin and South Main Streets, the Brooklyn Bridge on the Naugatuck River had not yet been built, and the town line was where Lounsbury Street is today. See the whole 1879 Waterbury map. 

Large scale 1893 map of the South End 


The South End in 1955. Shops, some open 20 hours a day, grew up on street corners throughout the South End, defining cluster neighborhoods of various ethnicity. Several districts within the South End became distinct neighborhoods: the “Abrigador” near the Scovill factory; “Washington Hill”, south of Sylvan Avenue; and "Hopeville", south of Piedmont Street. Neighborhood loyalty was reinforced by family networks and ethnic identity, and the shared experiences of neighborhood-based jobs, shops and churches. An error on this map misidentifies Washington School as St Francis School.


 All-girls Waterbury Catholic High School on South Elm Street, opened in 1926, became the site of Sacred Heart High School when Catholic High merged with Holy Cross High School on Oronoke Road in the West End in 1975.




The Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame, who lived at this convent on South Elm Street, operated and taught at Waterbury Catholic High and the co-ed Notre Dame Academy on South Elm Street and downtown on Church Street, for over seventy years. They now commute to Holy Cross High School in the West End.

I made my grand entrance into the world here - St. Mary's Hospital on Franklin Street. Founded in 1907 by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Chambery, St. Mary's has been serving the Greater Waterbury area for over a century. The hospital's earliest benefactor was the Right Reverend Monsignor William J. Slocum, permanent rector of the Immaculate Conception Church in Waterbury. He made an early contribution of $20,000 to get the project off the ground.

The nuns who founded St. Mary's Hospital lived in this convent on Cole Street.


Union Square was actually a triangle bordered by Franklin, Union, and Cole Streets. Over 20,000 people thronged the Square in September 1907 to lay the St. Mary’s Hospital cornerstone.


An aerial view of the Union Square area, circa 1935 

The American Suspender Company on the Mad River at East Liberty Street, founded in 1857, became the American Mills Company in 1881. 

“When the value goes up, up, up, and the prices go down, down, down, Robert Hall this season will show you the reason, low overhead, low overhead”

The Robert Hall discount clothing chain stemmed from a Case Clothes store opened in a 123,000 sq. ft. factory building at 196 Mill Street in Waterbury in 1940. The chain had 75 stores and was operating coast-to-coast by mid-1949. Its annual sales were estimated at between $50 million and $75 million. Locating at first in lofts and hanging clothes on pipe racks, Robert Hall hewed to a cash-and-carry, no-frills strategy that enabled it to hold its average mark-up to about 21 percent, compared to 40 percent or more for the average full-service clothing store. In 1946 Robert Hall started its own men's topcoat and suit factories, but the women's lines were purchased on the open market. The 200th store opened in 1955. The company went out of business in 1977.

the                        knitting room circa 1950

The Princeton Knitting Mill at 313 Mill Street dumped different color dyes each day into the Mad River in the '50s, and the stream was never the same color from day to day.  


 The Waterbury Garment Corp., a leading designer, manufacturer and distributor of children’s sleepwear, was founded at 313 Mill Street in 1921 by Harry Brownstein, and moved to Cherry Street in the late 1940s. The company is now located on Thomaston Avenue and headed by his son and grandson, Jack and Larry Brownstein.




A recent view of the building at 313 Mill Street that housed Waterbury Garment Corp. and Princeton Knitting Mills.




The Sara Glove Company abandoned these buildings on North Main Street when they moved their manufacturing operations to Woodbury CT many years ago.


A view east from the Baldwin Street bridge over the Mad River. The building on the left is the rear of the original Scovill factory building on Mill Street. The "Rare Road" refers to the Meriden, Waterbury, and Connecticut River Railroad line in the photo that connected the Scovill buildings on Mill Street with those on Hamilton Avenue (which was originally Dublin Street).

The Baldwin Street bridge area, circa 1935. Large 1935 aerial photo of this area. Most of  the houses in this photo were demolished in the 1950s for the construction of Route I-84.

Death of a neighborhood: lower Baldwin Street at the corner of Bridge Street in 1950 as the I-84 Baldwin Street overpass is constructed. The back of the original Scovill factory on Mill Street can be seen on the left.   (Photo courtesy of Rosemarie Carvalho)



Brito's Auto Supplies was on the corner of Baldwin & River Streets



Interstate Route 84, the modern multi-lane divided highway that would cut through the center of Waterbury in the 1960s, was envisioned in the 1946 Annual Report of the City of Waterbury. 



Holy Land USA, located on Pine Hill in the old Abrigador neighborhood between Hamilton Avenue and Baldwin Street, was a legitimate vacation destination for families in the 1950s, '60s and '70s, drawing as many as 44,000 visitors a year. The sign and cross overlooked Route I-84. 

More photos of Holy Land USA 





Pine Hill was called Rose Hill in the 1800s. The old Rose Hill firehouse on lower Baldwin Street near Merriman School was a Silas Bronson Library branch from the 1930s to the 1960s.






A view of Washington School on Baldwin Street. The neighborhood is known as Washington Hill



Located south of Washington Hill, the Hopeville neighborhood is bordered by Piedmont Street, South Main Street, Pearl Lake Road, Sylvan Avenue and Edgewood Avenue. It was originally known as Simonsville after Andrew Bayley Simons who purchased the Gabriel Post farm in 1865 and made extensive improvements on the property. The name Hopeville originated from the Hope Manufacturing Company that made harness trimmings and coach and saddlery hardware in the late 1800s.


Hopeville residents got their groceries at the Fulton Market and their pharmaceutical needs at the Ray Drug Co. owned by Maurice “Moe” Reiss in these buildings at the corner of Baldwin and Middle Streets in the 1950s & 1960s,   





and satisfied their hinger for pizza and "grinders" at Spinella's Restaurant at the corner of Baldwin and Stiles Streets.



The Wheeler-Young VFW Post 201, now located on Baldwin Street in Hopeville, was founded in the 1930s and met in the State Armory on Field Street. Several original members (not in this photo) recently celebrated their 60th anniversary at the Post.



The Diamond Bottling Corp. (aka Diamond Beverage Corp.) bottled soda, mixers, and Pal orange drink at their plant on South Main Street in Hopeville for more than a century. 

This 1920s era postcard named the "Althea Spring" in back of the bottling plant as the source of the water used to make Diamond beverages, and showed their original office on Althea Street that was built of ginger ale bottles. 

The water actually came from a well on the property.


 The company name was changed to Diamond Ginger Ale Inc. in the 1940s in honor of their best selling product. They left Waterbury in 1968 for a new bottling plant in Watertown CT, but are no longer in business.



The Reiner family bottled beverages, first as Reiner Bottling Works, then as the Puritan-All Co., from the 1880s to the 1940s at their plant on South Main St.

Other Waterbury soda brands in the 1950s included Bliss, Commander (Brassco Bottling Co.), Paul's (Riverside Bottling Co.), and Top-Notch (C. Mascolo Bottling Works).


Our Lady of Lourdes Church on South Main St. was modeled after the church of Santa Francesca Romana and serves the Italian community in the south end.





A bird's eye view of the landmark St. Anne Church on South Main Street. St. Anne's parish was formed by and for the French speaking people in the south end of Waterbury. Most of the residents there were descended from immigrants of the Quebec Province in Canada, or were immigrants themselves.  

The Perreault Auto Spring Service Station across the street from St. Anne's has been family owned and operated since 1911.  

Nardelli's Grocery Store was at 447 South Main Street. The Nardelli brothers prided themselves on the quality of their fruits and vegetables, which they bought in New York. While in NY one day, they noticed that grinders were quite popular there. They decided to start selling them out of their store to see how they would do. They were amazed at how well they sold and soon people were coming from all over to get a grinder. Some days, a line would wind its way down South Main Street. A combination grinder made from 1/4 loaf of bread cost 10 cents while a 1/2 loaf cost 15 cents and a whole loaf cost 30 cents. Though they had other specialties such as fruit baskets, penny candy, ice cream sundaes, and more, they soon became known as the grinder kings of Waterbury. Their reign ended in 1963 when Fred, the youngest and last survivor of the brothers, passed away. A nephew, Joe, soon took over the business and remained there until the building was demolished in 1978. Current Nardelli's locations


The Farer News Company on West Dover Street was the city's largest distributor of newspapers and magazines in the 1950s.


The Waterbury Buckle Company on South Main Street has been producing buckle hardware and accessories for government/military and commercial applications since 1853.




Steele & Johnson manufactured brass buttons for the military from 1858 to about 1920 at the corner of South Main and Mill Steets. 





Founded in 1812, the Waterbury Button Company on the Mad River at South Main Street was a major producer of buttons for military and civilian markets for over 100 years.





 The Waterbury Button Company also was heavily involved in the toy business in the 1920s through the 1950s, manufacturing aluminum toys such as airplanes, candy banks, zeppelins and tractors. The company was among the first manufacturers to mold a new plastic called Bakelite into buttons and toys. Bakelite proved to be ideal for electrical parts, and the company molded articles for the electrical industry.



The Waterbury Button Company changed its name to The Waterbury Companies Inc. in 1943 and marketed their plastic toy products under the new name. Despite the name change, the company continued to be called "the button company" by Waterbury residents for decades. The company moved its operations to Cheshire CT in 2002.

The former Waterbury Button Company / Waterbury Companies property in 2004.

Recent photos of the area surrounding the former factories on South Main Street


The wooden covered bridge over the Mad River on Washington Avenue was replaced by a steel bridge in 1878.

Telecells manufactured by the Waterbury Battery Co. at 1036 South Main Street were used by Admiral Byrd on his expeditions, 1928-30. Their glass battery oil bottles are still being found near railroad tracks throughout the country. The company went out of business in the late 1940s and the Harper-Leader Manufacturing Company moved into their 32,850 square foot factory in 1953, used it to produce chrome plating, and abandoned the site in 1988. The general offices building on the property had been the home of 19th century Hall of Fame baseball player Roger Connor, who had installed a unique baseball bat weathervane on the roof.

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The Big Dollar Market at 1200 South Main Street was Waterbury's first independent supermarket when it opened in 1936. It was heavily damaged in the 1955 flood, and reopened in 1956 as Everybody's Supermarket, the largest market in town.

Everybody’s closed the store and moved to Cheshire in 1992, and two successors -- Food World and the SouthSide Supermarket -- lasted only months on the South Main Street site before closing. The nearly 21,000-square-foot building has been vacant for several years.

Views of South Main Street at Antonelli's Market during the August 19, 1955 flood    

This Valley Diner was located at 1047 South Main Street at the corner of Lounsbury Street. This diner, which was moved from Willimantic in 1971, replaced the original diner that had been at this location since the 1930s. The diner closed in 1996, and was moved back to Willimantic in February, 2005.

There was also another Valley Diner opposite Antonelli's Market on South Main Street that operated in the 1950s.

 Finnegan and Seuss established their Eagle Brewing Company on Brewery Street in 1901, and were closed by Prohibition in 1920. It operated as the Waterbury Brewing Company from 1934 to 1938, and the Eastern Brewing Corp. from 1938 to 1939, brewing Clock Ale, Clock Lager, and Nutmeg State Beer.  



Chesnas Commercial Body Builders at 2067 South Main St.



South Main Street was Route 8 before the expressway was built in the 1960s. This 1930s billboard on Route 8 advertises Muniemaker Cigars, which were made in New Haven.



 The Tranquillity Farms Dairy and ice cream shop was in this building at the intersection of South Main and Baldwin Streets.



Tranquillity Farms and Sal's Market on August 19, 1955

One of the first Arlan's Department Stores, a pioneer of "big box" discount retailing, opened in an abadoned factory building on Railroad Hill Street in 1958. Arlan's enjoyed tremendous growth in the 1960s but closed all their stores when they went bankrupt in 1973. 

(This is not the Waterbury Arlan's)

(This was the Waterbury Arlan's)

The history of the enterprising Platt family goes back over 200 years, when they established a grist and saw mill on the Naugatuck River in the south end at what became Platt's Mill Road. By 1825, the Platts were producing wire and button eyes, which led to the manufacture of ferrous and non-ferrous buttons. The company came together in 1847 as A. Platt and Company, involved in the manufacture of rolled zinc products and metal buttons. The Platts began producing stampings and drawn eyelet components about 1875. After the raging flood on the Naugatuck River virtually destroyed the plant in 1955, the company, now The Platt Brothers and Company, erected a modern manufacturing facility at the current location on South Main Street.

One of the first full-length sound motion pictures was made at the studios of the Bristol Co. at Platts Mills by Professor William H. Bristol, who experimented for years with sound pictures. In 1927 he gave a lecture at the Franklin Institute on "synchronized talking motion pictures" His Talking Picture Corp. also became involved in improving loudspeakers, amplifiers, announcing systems and phonograph recording reproduction.

Professor Bristol invented gauges used worldwide to accurately measure air, gas, and steam pressure and temperature to monitor plant conditions, eliminate wasteful processes and help industry get control over production. Bristol is mentioned in Electrical World magazine of Oct. 14, 1893. He received awards at expositions in St. Louis, Paris, San Francisco, Philadelphia and the Chicago World Columbian Exposition of 1893.

The 17-acre Bristol Company property on Bristol Street contained a large manufacturing complex of 15 buildings, an Administration Building, a maintenance garage, and an employee athletic field.

There were hundreds of Howard Johnson's Restaurants all over the country when this one on South Main Street in Waterbury opened in 1957. It is now one of only five in the country that is still in business in 2005. Interior Tour

UPDATE- 01/19/07: The Howard Johnson's restaurant, with its signature orange roof, will disappear from Waterbury and the state within a month because the parent company has canceled the local franchise's license. David Kushner, president of La Mancha Group in New York, which owns the Howard Johnson's brand for restaurants and food products, said Thursday he notified Nicholas and Katrina Bakes of Stamford on Wednesday that they can no longer use the brand for their restaurant at 2620 S. Main St. The Waterbury location is the last Howard Johnson's restaurant in the state. Its demise leaves just three nationwide -- in Lake Placid and Lake George, N.Y., and Bangor, Maine. "Our company ... is moving in a new direction for the Howard Johnson's brand, and we felt the proprietors of the Waterbury property are not what we feel are good franchisees," Kushner said Thursday. "Rather than have substandard operators, we decided to start fresh."



A Howard Johnson Motel was built adjacent to the restaurant in the early 1960s. It is now the American Motor Lodge. 



Alex "Red or Al" Bryan and Cortlandt "Bud or Cort" Heyniger of Waterbury designed the Sunfish sailboat. The design was an evolution that progressed from Sailfish to Super Sailfish and to Sunfish. The original name of the company was Alcort. The company name could have been Cortal, but Alcort listed first in the telephone book, so it was selected. Production of the Sailfish began about June of 1945 with both kits and completed boats being made available. Sunfish came into being in 1953. The company’s first employee, Carl Meinert, drew his idea for the Sunfish on the shop floor and the Sunfish was born. In 1958 the third plant was out grown, so Alcort designed and built a plant to their own specifications in the south end of Waterbury. In the mid-60s Alcort needed support because the rapid growth of business overwhelmed them. They picked AMF as the best choice to take over the business. In 1969 Alcort was sold to AMF and by 1982 over 200,000 Sunfish had been built and sold.

Memories and images of life in the South End neighborhoods

Recent South End 06706 Profile     Hiking The Hood In 1997


From Stan Horzepa's blog:

Born in Waterbury in 1951, I lived with my parents on Stiles Street in the Hopeville section of Waterbury. As a kid, I explored my neighborhood on bicycle and on foot. I thought I had a pretty good handle on Hopeville, at least the part that was in the immediate vicinity of my home.  

The Diamond Ginger Ale Co. bottling plant was located at the bottom of the hill on which I lived. My first memory of Diamond was standing next to their plant with my Dad on the afternoon of August 19, 1955 as the waters of the Naugatuck River, which was across the street from the plant, receded after flooding and devastating the valley that day. In later years, while I was exploring the neighborhood, I occasionally revisited the Diamond plant and on some of my visits, a kindly Diamond worker offered me a bottle of my favorite beverage, Pal soda, which was a non-carbonated orange drink. In all my explorations, I never encountered the Althea Spring or the building made of ginger ale bottles depicted in the old postcard. After doing some research, I was reminded that the block-long Althea Street was located right behind the bottling plant and that circa 1900, Althea Park occupied about a quarter-mile square section of Hopeville that has long been occupied by homes. That is all I know Althea-wise. 



Two of my aunts lived on Stiles St. in the 1950s. One of them had what may have been the first television set in the neighborhood, a 19” round screen Zenith, connected to a roof antenna with an Alliance Tenna Rotor, and received all the New York City channels. I really looked forward to visiting her as often as possible then, because we didn’t have a roof antenna and could only receive the New Haven station on our 12” rectangular screen Motorola. We often had take out pizza from Spinella’s at the bottom of the hill.



The Hopeville Fire Department by Tony Lembo is the true, first-person account of a victim of sexual abuse by one of New England's most notorious priests. In the heartland of devoutly Catholic, working-class, 1970s New England, few took notice of Connecticut State Police and fire chaplain Father Stephen C. Foley racing around in an official-looking car full of teenaged boys and young men, visiting firehouses, chasing fire engines, showing up at fire scenes and pretending to be firemen. But hidden in plain sight, Father Foley was a central figure in a network of firehouse groupies across New England and into New York City that -over  two decades- used the "candy" of firehouse and police culture to lure boys, possibly hundreds, into violent sexual "initiations" that left their lives shattered while the Catholic Church looked the other way. This is the story of one of those boys, and a look inside one of the most bizarre and callous cases of pedophilia ever uncovered among the Catholic clergy.  

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