LONG ISLAND CITY'S WALWORTH CRAFTSMAN BUILDING OCCUPIED BY WESTINGHOUSE
By Nicholas Kalis
Seventh in a series of glimpses into industries or warehouses that
made for interesting freight operations on the Long Island. Information
presented has included, where available, a brief history of the firm,
how it was served by the LIRR, and what commodities were received or shipped
from this facility.
Water Tank, American Stove Company , Spot 14 Credit:
Maps of Freight Stations and Private Sidings published June 1966
places Westinghouse Corporation (Spot 14) immediately east of Queens Boulevard
and west of Astoria Lumber. Bill Myers and the Hyde Atlas confirm this
as the Walworth Company building whose sign reads "Walworth Craftsmen."
According to the Hyde Atlas, Queens Vol. 1, updated through 1955,
this building, once known as American Stove Company, was
incorporated by the Stockstroms in 1901. Prior to that, it housed Magic
Chef from the 1930s to 1960s. Since the 1990s, this building has
been occupied by D.W.L. Industries.
Magic Chef was founded in St. Louis in 1881 and became American Stove in 1901.
During WW II American Stove devoted its entire facilities to wartime activity. These production efforts in the manufacture of aircraft assemblies, bomb casings, flares, shells, droppable fuel tanks, and many other items earned them many awards and other tokens of recognition, including the coveted Navy E. In the pre-war years, as well as during the war, American Stove had been a vital link in the nation's industrial might.
Exterior Detail, American Stove Company (a prior
tenant for the building under review here) aka Walworth Building/
Magic Chef/D.W.L. Industries, Credit: Bill Myers
After the war American Stove Co. began a long decline. It was unable to compete with the larger manufacturers with a complete line of household appliances. Their facilities and expertise had been strictly in the field of gas stove manufacture, and attempts to expand their product lines with their own brands were unsuccessful. Even a company name change on December 31, 1951 to Magic Chef, Inc. did not help the slide from its former predominence in the gas stove stove industry. By 1953, as sales continued to fall, Arthur Stocksrom, then head of the company, brought in Cecil M. Dunn, former CEO of the Estate Division of RCA.. Dunn announced that he had assumed leadership of the company and was ready to restore it to its former position as a leader in the gas stove industry. He thereupon proceded to systematically dismantle the tangible assets of the company, the huge factory in St. Louis, the Lorain plant in Ohio, warehouses, and the practically new $1 million corporate headquarters in St. Louis. Millions of dollars worth of machinery was cut up and sold for junk. Tons and tons of new replacement parts and valuable equipment was sold for scrap prices. In 1955 Dunn purchased the Dortch Stove works in Franklin. Tenn. and transferred what assets remained of Magic Chef. In 1957, Dunn merged the company into the Food Giant Markets of California, but that move was doomed to failure and by October 1, 1958 what little was left of Magic Chef, primarily the Magic Chef name which was still virtually a household name, was sold to Dixie Products, Inc., a stove manufacturer of Cleveland, Tenn., for $1 million.
Over the next 29 years the Magic Chef name was substantially restored by the former Dixie Products management. In May of 1986 Magic Chef had been listed by Fortune Magazine as the 249th industrial concern and was merged as a division of Maytag Corp.
American Stove Company (a prior tenant for the
building under review here), while not appearing in this photograph,
is identified in the left background. Credit: The LaGuardia and
Wagner Archives, LaGuardia Community College/The City University
of New York
The Walworth building clearly extended through to Northern Boulevard.
According to telephone directories, a Westinghouse Battery Distributors
was at 32-10 Northern Boulevard. However, a Westinghouse Elec Supply Co
was listed as 29-50 Northern Boulevard in the 1950s -1970s. Also note
that two buildings - not counting a building assumed to be an auxiliary
structure for Astoria Lumber itself - not served by the LIRR separate
Westinghouse from Astoria Lumber (Spot 15). Ron Ziel's black and white
Photo 4 shows Magic Chef with a skeletal roof sign reading "Magic
Chef "(script) with below "Gas -[unintelligible]". Across
the top of this building is a painted sign [white letters on a dark background]
that reads "American Stove Co." A photograph dated 1974 shows
the word "Ranges" painted in light colors over a dark background
running down the west side of the building. The former Westinghouse building
can be identified by a roof-top sign skeleton and single odd-shaped (two-part)
water tower (See Photo 2). A brick chimney is at the rear (from yard A)
left of the building. Also apparent are two roof structures with pyramidal
roofs. Both Carl Fabrizi and the Hyde Atlas confirm a siding running
into the west side of the building that once housed Magic Chef. Westinghouse
was housed in a 5 and 1/2 -story poured concrete structure. A one and
one-half story first floor (relective of an extra row of half-height windows)
where freight cars enter causes this odd floor count.
George Westinghouse the man was born in 1846 in Central Bridge, New
York and died in 1914. Can any reader confirm, controvert, or narrow down
my guess that gas stoves and ranges were distributed from this facility?
Can anyone confirm my guess that this facility saw only deliveries in
box cars? A good guess would be that this building served only as a warehouse,
with no manufacturing involved. In that case, it is likely this building
only accepted rail deliveries of manufactured items, and shipped out only
Westinghouse bought CBS in late 1995 for $5.4 billion.
I have built a foam core mock-up of this building in HO scale for my
model railroad which depicts the Long Island Railroad as it operated in
Queens, New York in 1963.
Thanks to Carl Fabrizi and Bill Myers
Author Unknown Maps of Freight Stations and Private Sidings (Reprint)
Please send photographs that show how Extrin appeared
in the 1960s and direct any comments on or corrections to this manuscript
Suite 600, 1420 Spring Hill Road
McLean, Virginia 22102
Any illustrations or maps contributed will be gratefully acknowledged.
Logo, Long Island Railroad
1966 Maps of Freight Stations and Private Sidings shows
Westinghouse as Spot 14.