Manufactures

Related to the lumber industry were the several manufactures of window sash, doors, and woodwork.  The Curtis Company was the largest of these and had a major impact on the architectural scene in Clinton. 

CURTIS COMPANY: founded in 1866 by Charles F. and George M. Curtis, together with their uncle, Judson E. Carpenter, the Curtis Company grew rapidly.  The factory was on South 2nd Street at 12th Avenue South (141).  The homes of Charles f. and George M. Curtis still stand at 417 (8) and 420 5th Avenue South (9), respectively.

            Many innovations came from Curtis, including window sash glazed in the factory instead of on the construction job.  Curtis had a design department and attracted architects, some of whom opened private architectural practices in Clinton.  These included Josiah L. Rice, N. P. Work, and Walter E. Bort.

            In 1920, the Curtis design department, headed by Architect E. E. Green, created a new line of woodwork based on popular eclectic styles (such as Georgian and Colonial) and designed by the New York architectural firm of Trowbridge and Ackerman (who also designed the Eugene J. Curtis home (72) on Hillcrest, built in 1921, and a similar house which burned down).

            Another line of millwork was designed by Russell Whitehead and, in 1937, another eclectic-style line was designed by New York Architect, Dwight James Baum.  The Curtis Company also designed and developed a “model subdivision”, Castle Terrace (158), about 1926.  It was intended to promote Curtis products.  The houses were eclectic in design and used English Tudor Style to suggest the quaintness of an English village.  This setting was complete with a winding street and lush landscaping.

            In 1966, the Curtis Company shut down.  The increasingly high cost of woodwork, competitive products such as aluminum, and changing architectural taste (away from eclecticism and toward modern design, which makes little use of ornate woodwork), were the major reasons for the closing of Curtis.

            Another millwork company, the Disbrow Company, was located in Lyons.  Founded by Martin A. Disbrow in 1856, the company was incorporated in 1884.  The company was well-known for Eastlake Style-inspired woodwork.  The August, 1975 issue of The Palimpsest featured a large article by Arthur A. Hart, “M.A. Disbrow & Company: Catalogue Architecture”.  The Lyons plant shut down long ago, and only the office building (113) remains at 2301 McKinley. 

GEORGE W. PARKER: George W. Parker established a manufacturing business of metal cornices in Lyons in 1870.  His company made and installed the copper tower cladding on the Clinton County Court House (79), built in 1892-1897. 

THE IOWA GRANITE BRICK COMPANY: The Lamb family, in an attempt to diversify from the lumber business, started the Iowa Granite Brick Company about 1901, using one of their mills near 10th Avenue South as the manufacturing plant.  The brick was called a “concrete brick”.  It was pale yellow or buff in color and has some popularity in usage until the company closed about 1914.  Examples of buildings included in this book that used this brick are: (19) 317 7th Avenue South (YWCA), built in 1877 and rebuilt in 1906; and, (83) 615 North 2nd Street (Iten Biscuit Company), built in 1905.

            Other Clinton buildings that are of this brick are: the YMCA at 300 5th Avenue South, built in 1905; the Lafayette Hotel at 143 6th Avenue South, built in 1904-1905; Franklin School, built in 1908; the old street car barn at 1936 North Second Street; and, another car barn off of 12th Avenue South.

SOURCE: Department of Community Development, City of Clinton, Clinton, Iowa, An Architectural Heritage (1980)

 

 

 

 

 

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I would be more than happy to share any centennial memories, stories or photos you may have in your collection--just drop me a line.  Thanks so much to Jan and the Clinton Co. Historical Society for sharing this with us.

 

 

 

 

Clinton County History Books

Many books have been written that include information about Clinton County; indeed, they are still being published today.  Below are some that we have info from online: