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WEST SIDE STORIES AND VIEWS
The Hotel Waterbury was west of downtown at the northwest corner of West Main and Willow Streets, one block from the railroad station on Meadow Street. It is now an apartment building.
A police officer directs traffic from a booth in front of the Willow Drug Store on the northeast corner of West Main and Willow Streets in the 1920s.
The Junior League of Waterbury had rummage sales in the store behind the booth in the 1950s.
The Fulton Market on the corner of Willow & West Main Streets, 1931
A Paint Service Inc. 1950 newspaper ad
West Main St. was Waterbury's "auto row" in the '50s & '60s. Emmons & Seville at 428 West Main was the Pontiac Dealer. Loehmann Chevrolet and Colonial Buick were nearby.
Firestone was known for more than just tires and auto service in the '40s and '50s. Like K-Mart and Wal-Mart today, Firestone Stores carried an extensive line of merchandise for the whole family. Their Waterbury store at 444 West Main Street was operated by St. Louis Service, Inc.
Russell School at 955 W. Main St. was the neighborhood school.
The Lux Clock Manufacturing Company was founded in 1914 by Paul Lux (1868-1947), his wife Caroline, and their two sons, Fred and Herman. It is thought that at that time The Lux Clock Company produced only clock movements. In the years that followed, as the business grew, the company moved to larger buildings, only to have nearly everything destroyed by fire.
The company was rebuilt with the help of family and friends, and in the 1920s a larger plant was built at 95 Johnson Street in Waterbury, which was expanded in 1931 and in 1936. During this period, the company produced 3,000 clocks per day.
The Lux Clock Mfg. Company produced clocks and kitchen timers until 1941, at which time they made war related products. Clock and timer production resumed after the war. In 1954, a Lux Clock Manufacturing plant was established in Lebanon, Tennessee. In June of 1961 The Robertshaw-Fulton Controls Company bought out the Lux Clock Mfg. Company. They produced clocks and timers with the Robertshaw Controls Company, Lux Time Division name, and the Waterbury factory was closed.
In the early 1900s, Waterbury rebuilt many of its bridges with graceful, handsomely detailed arches. The West Main Street Bridge over the Naugatuck River replaced an old iron truss, which was then re-used in a more out-of-the-way location. The bridge is a model of Neo-Classicism, with its simple pilasters, stringcourses, raised arch rings, and granite railings creating a dignified appearance. In order not to ruin views of the bridge and river, City Engineer Robert Cairns designed conduits for electrical wires and other utilities beneath the bridge's sidewalks. While the bridge was still being designed, prominent manufacturer Irving H. Chase donated a 600'-long strip of land on the west bank to provide a park-like setting for the new structure.
The Freight Street Bridge at Chase Parkway in the 1930s. The I-84/Route 8 interchange is now at the spot where this photo was taken, and this part of Chase Parkway on longer exists.
The previous bridge on Freight Street had been destroyed in the 1924 flood.
The Tower Grill on Freight Street was the place to go for late night eats in the 1950s. The original diner on Meadow Street was destroyed in the 1955 flood.
Founded in 1922 and headquartered on Freight Street, MacDermid, Inc. is a leading worldwide manufacturer of specialty chemical processes for the metal and plastic finishing, electronics and graphic arts industries with operating facilities in 20 countries. The Corporation employs nearly 3,500 worldwide.
In 1906, the Waterbury Tool Division of Sperry Corporation on East Aurora Street created the first hydraulic installation on the Navy’s U.S.S. Virginia battleship where variable speed piston transmissions were used to elevate and train the guns. Waterbury Tool became part of Vickers Incorporated in 1936, and also manufactured a line of lawn and garden tractors in the 1940s and 1950s.
Waterbury Rolling Mills (WRM) on East Aurora Street was founded in 1906 to produce what was classified as “refractory grade” copper alloys. WRM had positioned itself as a premier producer of the 500 series, or Phosphor Bronze, alloys used by the electronics and telecommunications industries, when it was acquired by Olin Brass in 2001. The plant was closed in June, 2006.
A vintage view of the "factory district" at Bank Street and West Liberty Street in the early 1900s as seen from the Brooklyn Bridge on Washington Avenue. The Bank Street Bridge over the Naugatuck River is in the center.
Adam Bozzuto founded his wholesale grocery company in Waterbury in 1945, and established an affiliation with IGA (Independent Grocers' Alliance) in 1963, when it moved to Cheshire. In 1970, 190,000 shares of the company's common stock (about one-third of the total) were offered to the public. Bozzuto's, Inc. now operates as a wholesale distributor of groceries and nonfood items to independent retail supermarkets and grocery and convenience stores in northern New Jersey, southeastern New York (including Long Island), and southern New England.
Waterbury is well known for its fine gourmet restaurants. The newest one opened in March 2007 in a new building at 735 West Main St, which had been the CR&L city bus parking lot for more than fifty years.
Located west of downtown Waterbury around Highland Avenue, Town Plot consists mostly of Italian-Americans who have tilled the land, built homes and a neighborhood strong in ethnic pride. In the early decades of the 20th century, Town Plot attracted new homeowners seeking more open space than the densely settled, older neighborhoods of Brooklyn and the South End could offer. Civic improvements in the area, including the development of Chase Park in 1911, the construction of Chase Parkway in the 1920s, and the construction of St. Margaret's school in 1927, brought greater public attention and transportation services to the neighborhood. A big part of neighborhood life centers around activities at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. For the past 65 years, the church has played host to the annual Our Lady of Mount Carmel feast in July. The four-day event features food, games and music, and concludes with a neighborhood parade honoring Mary, the mother of Jesus.
The Harrub Pilgrim Memorial was carved out of French granite by Herman Atkins MacNeil of New York. Charles Harrub, an engineer for the American Brass Company, donated the $100,000 needed for the project to honor his wife and the Pilgrims. Dedicated October 11, 1930 at its original location at the entrance to Chase Park across from the Freight Street bridge, it was moved for the construction of the Route 8 & I-84 interchange and is now located at the corner of Highland Avenue and Chase Parkway. (Photo by Daniel M. Lynch, Mattatuck Consulting, LLC www.greaterwaterbury.com)
The Waterbury Country Club on Bradleyville Road (now Oronoke Road), circa 1920. In the 1890's, the sport of golf was rapidly growing in popularity throughout America. The city of Waterbury was no different, with the earliest known matches being played in the Spring of 1896 at the West End Golf Links along the east bank of the Naugatuck River, near present-day Colonial Plaza.
Post University was founded in 1890 as a proprietary business school to support the training and educational needs of the blossoming industries of central Connecticut. In 1896 Henry C. Post became the principal of the school, and over the next several years it became known as Post’s Waterbury Business College. It wasn’t until 1939 that the college broadened its mission and became Post Junior College. In 1960 Dr. Harold B. Post became president, and in 1965 Post College acquired its current day campus property on Country Club Road. Post Junior College, having been previously accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, became Post College, a four-year institution of higher education in 1976.
Memories and images of life in Town Plot
Brooklyn was developed after the creation of the park-like Riverside Cemetery in the 1850s. A wooden bridge over the Naugatuck River was erected at Bank Street in 1853, followed by a more substantial concrete bridge in the 19th century as the neighborhood developed. Two railroads served manufacturing activities in the area, and later in the 19th century, the Waterbury trolley was laid out over the Bank Street bridge through the center of Brooklyn to the Hellmann & Kipp Brewery. By the end of the century, 5,000 people lived in Brooklyn. At its height, Brooklyn contained five grammar schools, three drug stores, three theaters, eight bakeries, two breweries, a library, a firehouse, a YMCA, and 22 taverns. Those who grew up in the neighborhood remember the sports teams and social activities sponsored by churches and social organizations in the neighborhood, childhood adventures along the Naugatuck River and the Charles Street woods, the juke box at Lolly's, and dish night at the Capitol Theater.
An elevated view of the Brooklyn neighborhood, which is due south of the Railroad Station, circa 1910.
The Waterbury Watch Company, organized in 1880, began to produce inexpensive pocket watches at its factory on Bank Street some ten years after its founding. Success was immediate despite mechanical inconveniences associated with the watches, best known of which was the nine foot mainspring that seemingly took forever to wind. Probably the sales policies of the company, more than any other factor, led to eventual failure. The Waterbury Watch Company sold large numbers of its watches at low wholesale prices, and they were often given away by merchants as premiums, usually with the sale of men's or boys' suits. An image of cheap merchandise, of shoddy goods at all-wool prices, came to adhere to the Waterbury Watch, and its popularity declined. The company reorganized in 1898 as the New England Watch Company, but its best efforts could not avert failure in 1912.
Robert Ingersoll bought the bankrupt New England Watch Company in 1914 and utilized its facilities in Waterbury to produce pocket watches with the Ingersoll Waterbury Watch name. In 1922, the Waterbury Clock Company purchased the Ingersoll operation whose business had begun to sour and had gone bankrupt two years previously because of poor management. Waterbury's operation began to decline and was particularly hard hit by the Great Depression. By 1932, their huge factory complex was little used. They barely avoided bankruptcy, but the firm was reorganized as the Ingersoll‑Waterbury Company with investors raising half a million dollars in new capital. During this period the popular "Mickey Mouse" character watch was made and electric clocks were added to the line. After America entered World War II, the Ingersoll‑Waterbury Company switched almost 100% to manufacturing war products. In 1942, the operation was purchased by a group of Norwegian investors and a new factory was built at Middlebury, CT. In 1944, the firm became known as United States Time Corporation and introduced the popular Timex watch shortly after the war. In November, 1969, U. S. Time was succeeded by Timex Corporation, which continues business at Middlebury. The Waterbury Watch Co. factory was demolished in the 1960s, and is now the site of a Home Depot.
Download a working Mickey Mouse Ingersoll clock for your computer
The Hellman & Kipp Brewery on Bank Street in the Brooklyn neighborhood was founded in 1881. It became the Hellman Brewing Company in 1885 and was closed by Prohibition in 1920. (brasscitylife.org photo)
The Largay Brewing Co. brewed Red Fox Beer, Red Fox Ale, White Cap Beer, and many other beer and ale brands in the former Hellman Brewery on Bank Street from 1933 to 1947.
The Riverside Bottling Co. made a full line of Paul's Beverages in Brooklyn for many years. The plant was destroyed in The Great Flood of 1955.
In 1851, the Farrel Foundry company of Ansonia expanded its operations to Waterbury, where a foundry and machine ship were built. The Waterbury facilities were designed to offset transportation difficulties and speed repair service in that area. In 1880 the plant was taken over by its manager, Edward Coffin Lewis. In return for his quarter interest in the Farrel business, Lewis received control of the Waterbury branch, severing all legal ties with the parent company. Lewis served as president of Waterbury Farrel Foundry & Machine Company until his death in 1901. The company remains in operation today as Waterbury Farrel Technologies in Cheshire.
Plume & Atwood was founded in 1869 and produced a full line of lamps and lamp trimmings in Waterbury until 1955, when the Manufacturing Division and Main Offices relocated to Thomaston, CT because of the crippling damage it suffered in the August 1955 flood. The buildings were virtually destroyed and most of the equipment and tooling was either lost or severely damaged.
Early literature cites the Mantle Lamp Company of America “with offices at Chicago, Ill., Dallas, Tex., Waterbury, Conn., Portland, Ore., Montreal, Can., and Winnipeg, Can.”. Many of the burners for their Aladdin lamp were made by Plume & Atwood in Waterbury.
Waterbury Plating Company on Porter Street was founded by Charles Nardozzi in 1943. The company is a high quality metal finisher of ferrous and nonferrous substrates applying a variety of protective and decorative coatings. Extremely diversified customers and markets include clothing, automotive, electronic, defense, aircraft, hardware, household goods, writing instruments, springs and instrumentation.
Eur-Pac, a Brooklyn, N.Y. firm, purchased the 15,000-square-foot Waterbury Foundry industrial building at 112 Porter Street in 2000. The company, which relocated from New York to Connecticut, specializes in electrical and hydraulic assembles, part kits and military packaging.
St. Patrick's Church on Charles St. now stands in the shadow of the Route 8 Expressway.
The historic, century-old Duggan School with its 90-foot clock tower has been empty since 1998. A recent engineering study found at least some of the stately Bank Street structure will need to be demolished, and it's unclear whether the rest of the building is sound enough to withstand renovation and the rigors of daily use.
The railroad overpass on Bank St., circa 1952
The Brooklyn equivalent of Happy Days' Arnold's Drive-In: Lolly's Luncheonette on Bank Street was where Brooklyn teenagers hung out and listened to the jukebox in the 1950s.
Bank St. was heavily damaged in the 1955 flood
Corner of Bank St & Congress Ave in 1964. Bendler's Drug Store is now Brass City Tattoo.
Corner of Bank St & Leonard St in 1964
St. Joseph School in the Brooklyn neighborhood was one of many parochial schools in predominently Catholic Waterbury in the 1930s. St. Joseph's is now rented by the Waterbury Department of Education and operated as the Brooklyn School.
George Metesky, New York City's infamous "Mad Bomber", was arrested at his 17 Fourth Street home in the Brooklyn neighborhood in 1957.
Metesky manufactured his bombs in this garage in back of his house
Brookside Dairies on South Leonard Street was a major supplier of milk and dairy products for over fifty years.
The Cashin Brothers kept Waterbury supplied with ice cream from their dairy on South Leonard St.
Waterbury also has a Brooklyn Bridge. It crosses the Naugatuck River on Washington Avenue into the Brooklyn neighborhood. The bridge in this photo was destroyed in the Great Flood of 1955, and was replaced by a new one. The Brooklyn neighborhood sustained the most damage in the flood. There was also a smaller bridge over the Mad River on Washington Avenue near South Main Street that was damaged in the flood. 1991 aerial photo of both bridges.
Vintage images and memories of the 1955 Flood in Waterbury
When the confounding jumble of raised highway that carries Route 8 and Interstate 84 through the heart of Waterbury originally was built, several city streets were cut in two and many homes and businesses were lost to the wrecking ball. Four decades later, state officials have begun drafting plans to rebuild the Mixmaster, as that part of the highways is known. The new interchange will be safer and less confusing, they say. It carries a roughly estimated cost of up to $2 billion and construction isn't slated to begin for at least 15 years.
Perhaps no area was hit as hard by the interchange as the Brooklyn neighborhood, which lies in its shadow. During Brooklyn's heyday, it was a bustling blue-collar neighborhood teeming with vibrant Lithuanian, Irish and Italian families. It was a self-contained world where people walked to work at nearby factories, drank at one of 22 local bars, visited a downtown movie theater and played basketball at the Brooklyn YMCA. Neighbors knew each other and local children were fearful of causing trouble, because the story of a boy's misdeeds would soon make it back to their parents' ears, said Frank Perrella, a semi-retired Waterbury teacher, member of the Brooklyn Neighborhood Association and the group's unofficial historian.
Perrella, 59, was in high school when the Mixmaster was built. He remembers dozens of families selling their homes amid rumors of the coming highway project. More left as the state claimed dozens of homes, tenements and businesses along Charles, South Leonard, Bank and Riverside streets. "The highway uprooted families who had lived there for generations, so that sense of community, that sense of cohesiveness, was lost," Perrella said. "It ripped the heart out of the neighborhood."
Today, Brooklyn is a very different place. Many residents are there for cheap rents and short stays in beat-up triple-decker apartments that dominate the center. Abandoned and boarded buildings are easy to find, and there are several empty storefronts in the business section. Litter, drugs and petty crime are common. Old-timers long for the days when people took more pride in their property, and in their neighborhood, although most residents are too young or too new to the area to remember a time before the Mixmaster.
Lisa Velez, Brooklyn Neighborhood Association president, fits into the latter category. As a girl, she would go to sleep listening to a steady flow of traffic on Route 8 from her parents' home on Green Street. Today, she lives around the corner on North Leonard Street, and still goes to bed with that familiar sound.
Either of the two leading design concepts for the rebuilt Mixmaster would free up more space in Brooklyn. Both would lower the elevated highway and give it a less imposing profile. There would be fewer exits and straighter curves, and far fewer, if any, left-hand ramps. The plan favored by DOT staff would swing Route 8 eastward across the Naugatuck River -- away from Brooklyn -- and through an underused collection of industrial properties behind Meadow and Freight streets. This would have the benefit of allowing construction on the new section of highway, without interfering with the everyday flow of traffic.
Memories and images of life in the Brooklyn neighborhood
With the arrival of the trolley line in Bunker Hill in 1890, the neighborhood was ripe for residential development, and families divided their former farms into developments of single family homes. New people, primarily of English, German and Irish heritage, came to the neighborhood, attracted to the new homes. At the turn of the 20th century, many were still farmers, milk dealers, and employees of neighborhood businesses. Within 20 years, the neighborhood included music teachers, lawyers, draughtsmen, engineers, county commissioners, teachers and editors.
A 1919 view of Bunker Hill School
Bunker Hill School Class of 1956
Blessed Sacrament School on Bunker Hill Ave. was dedicated in 1956
It seemed like every neighborhood has their own dairy in the 1940s and early 1950s, and Bunker Hill was no exception.
On Friday, May 25th 1962, a tornado cut through the Bunker Hill neighborhood, damaging more than 300 homes and buildings, and destroying 70 of them.
Memories and images of life in the Bunker Hill neighborhood
Waterbury Hospital was the first hospital in the city of Waterbury and fourth in the state of Connecticut. It opened on 20 January 1890 in a Victorian mansion overlooking the city, after nearly a decade of fundraising. A wing was added to the building a few years later.
In 1907, a community campaign raised $25,000 to purchase 21 acres of land on a hillside atop the city for a new hospital. The new Waterbury Hospital was built upon this land on Robbins Street. It opened in 1911, with 75 beds and a medical staff of 36. Architect Henry Bacon of New York, who designed the hospital and the Citizens & Manufacturers Bank on Leavenworth Street, also designed the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Warren Fox Kaynor Technical High School ("Kaynor Tech") on Tompkins St. was established in 1953. When the school initially opened, ten trades were offered. In 1968, one of the trades, watch clock and instrument making, was considered obsolete and was replaced by electronics. In 1973, automotive collision repair was moved to a separate location after years of sharing space in the automotive trade. Plumbing and heating was added at this time as well. In 1982, a comprehensive program in the culinary arts was added.
The school was extensively remodeled and expanded in 2009.
Municipal Stadium on Watertown Avenue has been the venue for Waterbury high school football games and other outdoor events since the 1930s.
The Waterbury Zindah Grotto of the Shriners sponsored a circus at Municipal Stadium every year in the 1940s. The 1944 performance was for the benefit of the "keep 'em smoking fund" which provided free cigarettes to Waterbury servicemen.
New York Yankees greats Phil Rizzuto, Joe DiMaggio, Tommy Henrich, Yogi Berra, and Naugatuck native "Speck" Shea appeared at Municipal Stadium in 1947 in an exhibition game against the Waterbury Timers. Waterbury professional baseball team records. Boston Red Sox great Ted Williams also appeared at Municipal Stadium in 1961.
The Brookside Home on Bookside Road near Municipal Stadium was the city's home for the aged, homeless, and indigent until it was demolished in the 1960s. The cows in the foreground are grazing in the brookside pasture of the farm that provided vegetables, milk, and meat for the Home. More Brookside Home photos.
The Mert Connor Little League Stadium on Watertowm Avenue was the second best little league stadium in the United States. Local contractors donated their equipment, talent and materials to build the stadium. The City of Waterbury leased the property to the Exchange Club for $1.00 per year. The stadium was demolished for the construction of Route 8 in the 1960s.
My "flavor-rich" milk was delivered in amber bottles to our back porch in the 1950s by a milkman from the Brock Hall Dairy on East Aurora Street. Brock-Hall's main plant was in Hamden, and they started deliveries in Waterbury in 1941 by buying Fenwood Farms Dairy on Englewood Ave. Brock-Hall was the largest independent dairy in the state and served more than sixty thousand patrons. It was also the first distributor of vitamin D milk in the country. Brock-Hall used clear "cream top" bottles for their "Pure-Pact" milk in the 1940s.
"Come In And Eat Or We'll Both Starve": Frankie's on Watertown Avenue has been "The Hot Dog King" of Waterbury for over sixty years.
The Litchfield Farm Shop at 579 Watertown Avenue was a popular family dining spot in the '50s and '60s. Friendly's bought the shops in the 1970s, and retained an ice cream and sandwich shop at this location.
Bruneau's Royal Windsor at 1700 Watertown Ave. was a popular dining and dancing place in the 1940s.
D'Angelo's took over the building when Bruneau's went out of business in the late 1940s.
Arnold's Restaurant on Watertown Ave. was a popular venue for banquets in the 1950s
A recent view of the old Oakville Pin Company factory on Watertown Ave. Oakville Pin became a Scovill Manufacturing company in 1923.
A Connecticut Company trolley/streetcar from Waterbury on the Watertown route in Watertown in the 1930s, when gas was 12¢ a gallon at the Gulf station on the left. Waterbury trolley and bus service history.
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