Atlantic Screw Works – #ThursdayDoors

I love the details in the brick, particularly the posts on the entrance.

This has been a very busy week. I was unable to finish the research on the remaining Suffield, Connecticut doors, and the doors of Suffield Academy, but I have something I like very much. On the way home from getting my haircut, I took advantage of the diminished traffic (due to the continuing shutdown) and I explored a section of Hartford that would normally be packed with cars and ‘no parking’ zones. Rather than try and paraphrase the great folks over at Historic Buildings CT, I’m just going to quote them:

“At the corner of Charter Oak Avenue and Wyllys Street in Hartford is a former factory complex erected by the Atlantic Screw Works, which built machines to manufacture screws. The company was established in 1877 in New York State, but moved to Hartford in 1879. It was originally based in rented space in the Colt Armory. By 1902 the company was ready to erect its own building. The earliest section of their new factory was built in 1902-1903. The longer section, designed by Davis & Brooks, was built c. 1910 and more than doubled the company’s operating capabilities. The company lasted into the 1970s and the building was converted to office space in the 1980s.”

A nearby building, that of Capewell Manufacturing appears to have also been turned into lofts and condos. Capewell made machines that made horse nails. It looks like a wonderful place to live, and I am so glad they preserved this building. I hope you enjoy the pictures in the gallery as much as I do. You do like bricks, don’t you?

This post is part of the fun weekly bloghop known as Thursday Doors. Founded by the king of doors, Norm Frampton, it’s a weekly celebration of all things door. If you want to join us, head on up to Norm’s place.


81 comments

  1. I love that architecture Dan. Does it have a collective name, especially if there are other buildings like that, and do they belong to a particular age? It looks so neat and concise and even in its modernity, it has a touch of Georgian vaguely hidden in it.

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    1. It’s hard to pin down one style, Don. The Capewell building is on the National List of Historic Buildings and is listed as “Renaissance” but I’ve seen similar buildings listed as Georgian, Mediterranean Revival, Federal and simply “Commercial.” More than anything, the design was practical for the work being done inside. Moving materials (in/out/up/down), access to water power or railroad lines defined the shape of these buildings. I’m not sure what drove the style, except, maybe, it’s what local contractors were good at. This area of Hartford has many buildings like these two. They made bricks in CT, about five miles north of Hartford, and they quarried brownstone about 30 miles to the south. That drove a lot of design decisions, too. The famous brownstones in New York City were built with CT stone.

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  2. These are such great buildings. The brickwork is testimony to a time when structures were built with pride and intended to be functional for decades to come. So glad you were able to take this little side trip and share what you found with us. Of them all, the Atlantic Screw Works building is a gem!
    🐾Ginger 🐾

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    1. As soon as I drove past the entrance, Ginger, I knew I had to find my way around the block. I think I would have enjoyed walking through those entrances. I know it had ro be better than aluminum and glass doors (that never closed properly) where I used to work – blah.

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  3. Old Brick buildings speaks of permanence, of strength. Not so much the modern ones. Too many look cheap and flimsy. I would like the apartment at the top of the building with the round window, please.

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    1. We would have to be neighbors, if you have that, Pam. But that would be fine with me. These buildings are so well made. It doesn’t surprise me that 120 years later, they’re being transformed into upscale housing.

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    1. I’m so glad you like these, GP. I’m a sap for details and history (as you well know from my visits to your site). I think these things speak to a spirit in this country that we’ve lost. Connecticut was famous for making tools and machines that made it possible for other companies to make things with precision.

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    1. It’s true. Atlantic Screw Works didn’t make screws. They made machines that made screws. That’s the real industry that made CT famous, making machine tools to make industry possible.

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  4. I love brick building, Dan, and my dream place to live is an industrial style loft with high ceilings, big windows, and exposed brick walls. Converted buildings like this often make cool and quirky places to live–alas, most of the time they have astronomically high prices.

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    1. I would love to live in a place like that, Mike. You’re right though, these are expensive units. I’m sure I don’t want to know how much the unit with the turret goes for,.

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    1. I’m sure these bricks were made about five miles north of Hartford in Windsor and South Windsor, CT. In the late 1800s, they were probably sent down by rail, but they could have still been brought by boat. I enjoy all of our modern conveniences, and I know there were tons of problems, but that must have a glorious time to be watching these cities being transformed.

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  5. Such a beautiful building,Dan. Funny story: when my kids were in grammar school, some builder told the principal, Sr Mary Something, that the school would look great if he spelled out the name of the school in brick…on brick. The theory was that if you looked at the street-facing wall from the side, the school’s name would show from the protruding brick. Yeah. No. She agreed and was so enamored with the idea. To this day, when I drive by I still try to see the name. It’s not happened all these years later. The PTA was just a tad ticked off at the expense….

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    1. But I’m guessing you raised the requisite funds ;-) I like that these buildings included elements of form and function. They were designed to facilitate the manufacturing process underway inside, but they fit into the neighborhood.

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  6. Wow, Dan. Proof that brick buildings can be beautiful and detailed. Well done. In DC I lived in a sea of nearly identical brick buildings — seriously, it went on for miles. They were attractive, but so much of the same thing! Hugs on the wing.

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    1. We live in a neighborhood of post-war ranches that were identical when built and haven’t been modified too much. We like the house, but ours does look much different than the neighboring homes. The area of Hartford around these buildings has many such old brick mills, and the houses that were built for the workers. It is an attractive area.

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      1. Nowadays, you don’t get that sort of thing or if you do, it’s very expensive. Maybe it was expensive then, too, I don’t know. But it adds so much to the beauty of a building that otherwise might look merely functional.

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  7. Hi Dan – what a stand the building is making … it intends to be there for a long time. I love the red brick buildings … interesting the soil was good for brick making. It certainly is an impressive building … and good to know you’ve got a hair cut – I’d like ours to be open soon … not that I really need one. Take care – Hilary

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    1. It’s interesting, Hilary. The soil around here is very sandy as you get up from the river, but mostly clay in the areas around the river’s elevation. We live up on the plateau of the west ridge and our soil is pretty much sand. a few blocks to the east, the clay starts. I’m glad to see this building finding a new life.

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    1. It’s pretty easy to drive by, Diana. It’s south of the city center (across the Whitehead highway). It’s across from St Cyril and Methodius church, if that rings a bell. I’m going to feature some of the buildings around here at some point.

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        1. I think I mentioned, I worked in Glastonbury for the 15 years before I retired. I only just discovered this area of Hartford in the past few months when I decided to explore the area around the Colt building.

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  8. Wonderful post Dan. It’s simply amazing how decorative and original humans can get even with a building material as simple as bricks.Seeing creative work like this on an otherwise functional/industrial building always makes me smile :-)

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    1. That’s how I feel, Norm. The amazing thing to me, is that there would have been workers all over that building, and they all knew how to do what they needed to do. The symmetry of the recessed areas in that entrance are fascinating to me.

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  9. When I first saw the title, I thought great, it works, but what is an Atlantic screw? Then the building of course, very nice. I lived in the third story Of a building that had the turret on our level. Three of us shared that new apartment and it was my favorite room.

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    >

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  10. Although I love our house and yard, I always thought it would be fun to live in a converted industrial building like that. While we are sheltering at home, I want a yard… but maybe sometime in the future we can try out that lifestyle either as a home exchange or thru one of the Airbnb-type services. All that brick, big windows and traditional architecture makes me drool.

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    1. I stayed in one of Marriott’s boutique hotels in Baltimore that was built inside just such a building. My room was on a corner, and had exposed brick on three walls and exposed steel structural elements in the high ceiling space. It was a cool experience.

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  11. Dan, very interesting. FYI, I worked in the screw business. There are a couple of ways to make screws. The very precision way for the tightest tolerances is by screw machines, cutting the steel, removing it from the staring slug, to make the part and the waste. I bet the ASW made screw machines. The other method is ‘cold forming’ the slug, hitting it with punches while its held in a die. The force cause the slug material to move into the die and form a shape. No waste, generally. Find ‘cold forming’ on the web and watch a video. I was in sales. Yup, screws doesn’t sound very exotic but someone makes them, lots of companies, actually, and someone uses them … by the gazillions… esp the automotive world. Thanks for your interesting post.

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    1. Thanks for adding this information. I think of the number of screws I use each year, and that’s amazing. I can’t begin to imagine how many are used every day. ASW made screw-making machines. Capewell made horse nail making machines. Industrial machines fascinate me. The men who designed and built them had such talent and imagination.

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      1. One of the activities that I enjoyed was going into shops and seeing machines make stuff, big presses stamping car parts, machines spitting out screws faster than you could blink, plastic molding machines (presses) making small and big stuff. Going they a factory gives one the real sense of what makes our economy move.

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        1. When I was consulting (early 1980s) I did work for a brass mill and a place that made brass buckles (for everything). Earlier than that, when I was a senior in high school, I worked in a shop that made gun barrels. The head machinist had actually made some of their machines. It was fascinating. watching the process. I’ve never been in a large industrial plant. I can only imagine.

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          1. Even in a short time span, the technology and automation that has taken place in shops is phenomenal. In ‘76, I was given a plant tour at Rochester Products (Rochester, NY), a GM facility that made various carburetors. One was what they called the ‘quad’, a 4 barrel carburetor for big engine muscle cars. They manufactured 20,000 a day. Yikes! Imagine that. And they were only one manufacturer. The purchasing power of the American consumer is phenomenal. It needs to get up and running. Be safe.

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            1. Exactly. I had a ‘70 LeMans. Remember the ‘landau’ (sp) roofs. It was a luxury car for us because it had A/C, unlike the ‘66 VW Beetle (wish I still had the VW to scoot around). I’m not a car buff but I felt cooool in the LeMans. It was okay until I moved to western NY and the winter toad salt did a job on it.

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  12. Did they just make machinery for the manufacturing of screws? Sure, screws are used a lot but I would think bolts, nails, and other little items to put things together would be made by the same type of company.

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    1. From what I’ve read, they just made screw-making machines. The company next door made nail-making machines. That company also made horseshoe nails, and continued making them until 2012. There were hundreds of machine tool companies in CT that served specialty markets.

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