Saturday, April 2, 2011

Russel Wright Melmac Factory Tour - Northern Chemical of South Boston Residential and Flair Melamine

Credit: Christies Auction read about it on the Value Page.
Milestone: I've finally finished the "Residential" page of this website.

Thanks to Mr. Ralph Young, whose family owned the King Terminal Property located at Ward 6, South Boston sometime during this period, I was able to fill in the blanks as to where the melmac was made!  That being the Northern Industrial Chemical Company of South Boston, Massachusetts. 

This is a photograph of 11 Elkins Street, from the Co-Star realtor back in '07 when it had been renovated into office buildings.  Most of the spaces remained vacant for 5-10 years which promoted numerous renovations of this industrial area of South Boston.  It is easy to imagine an overpass connecting the buildings.

It took me ten years to fill in all the blanks.  Plastics Society greats like George Sammet, F. Reed Estabrook, and Hans Wanders were just a few "plastic greats" who ran this company way back when.   According to Ralph (whose grandfather and father were directly involved with the property), Northern occupied at 7-11 Elkins Street.  These buildings were circa 1917-1918. (Prior to that, Northern was in a smaller building in South Boston.)  Each building was approximately 60,000 sq. feet with four floors and a basement.  Ralph Young explained to me that there were "wards" or sections of the King Terminal. The buildings were labeled as such but contained building numbers. The 7 through 11 buildings that Northern occupied were actually separate buildings connected by an overhead walkway on the 3rd and 4th floors.  Unfortunately, Ralph's company demolished that walkway in 1985 as he needed to separate the buildings as they were being sold.  No photogaphs are in existance, that we know of.

Note the "#7 King Terminal" as shown on this building, probably the only remains of originality of Ralph's family owning the King Terminal back then. Although the address does not seem to correspond now, I was a bit confused as the whole industrial area is different.

Proof  in my research that they either used Building 22 Elkins Street for a sales office or extra storage, which I have listed below.  In actuality, their boxes had 22 Elkins Street printed on them!  So , imagine how large this company must have been back then to take up all this space.

#22 Elkins Avenue , What did Northern use this for?

Although minor renovations this building at #22 Elkins, Northern's headquarters may resemble how it once looked. I wonder how it originally looked in the 1920's?
 Northern was a huge producer of plastic dinnerware and this should be noted. They were one of the first early airline ware manufacturers, dabbled in picnic and RV trailer plates, by the 1950's Russel Wright's Flair, Residential and Home Decorator lines, and later took over molding of Watertown's Lifetime Ware. However, this was only a small portion of the plant's business.  Knobs,electrical components and housings, plugs, parts, and components were other parts of their business. Their contract with Warren Telechron Clock Company in Massachusetts (now General Electric) was just a few of the things they did. Here's an example of what may go unnoticed and I'm proud to report I actually told a few clock collectors about this discovery!!!
This Warren Telechron clock was sold by HappyDashery of Maine.
1946 Modern Plastics Encyclopedia Ad for Northern proves they designed the housing on the Warren Telechron Clock.

So, To read the full history on Northern, and see information as it pertains to Residential and Russel Wright's sordid history with them, make sure to visit that page of my site.
It will be updated regularly and new information added.
Do you know anyone who worked there? I must talk to you so please contact me.

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