With its low self-esteem and high urban blight, Hartford is the ultimate underdog city. Sad City Hartford documents the joys, sorrows and eccentricities of New England's Rising Star.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Capewell Manufacturing Company


One of the popular rhetorics today is the call for America to return to it's roots as a manufacturer, to produce goods. As a turn of the century powerhouse, Hartford boasts quite a manufacturing history, most famously, Colt Manufacturing.  We recently came upon a large empty factory on Popieluszo Street and as a result learned a little bit of Hartford history that we were unaware of.

Taking up an entire block and surrounded by a fence and barbed wire, aging signs in the entrance told us that this boarded up building was once the home of the Capewell Manufacturing Company. An empty factory is a curious thing. To think that a building once filled with such activity now stands empty and lifeless for whatever reasons is always intriguing.


After some research we learned that the story of the Capewell Manufacturing Company is one all too familiar to Hartford. From funder George Capewell's Wikipedia page:

"In the centennial year of 1876, he began his major life work, the invention of an automatic process to produce horse nails. After years of frustration, failure, and the loss of thousands of dollars, a perfected machine was exhibited to investors in Hartford, Connecticut in the fall of 1880. In 1881, George J. Capewell formed the Capewell Horsenail Company in Hartford, Connecticut.
A 1900 article reported that “Mr. Capewell’s tenacity of purpose has brought him to the top and it is Hartford’s boast that he is one of the men who has done much toward making the city known the world over.” 
Presently, the company continues to manufacture nails in Bloomfield, Connecticut on machines designed by George Capewell."
There's that Bloomfield again, taking our jobs!






14 comments:

  1. I think the renovation/restoration of the Capewell Building has been an on again, off again revitalization project for years in Hartford. Hopefully it will come through one of these days.

    http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/editorials/hc-ed-hartford-agenda-20110116,0,3798801.story

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love Sad City Hartford, and the Capewell building.
    http://ctculturehistory.blogspot.com/2011/06/horseshoe-nail-capital-of-world.html

    ReplyDelete
  3. cant wait till it burns down- hey most of these buildings do when people get tired of owning them and want to collect insurance money -

    ReplyDelete
  4. Raymond Roy, Alfred MaineNovember 17, 2012 at 11:44 AM

    It's very sad. Capewell Mfg. is where I worked in the 1960's. Besides horseshoe nails we made Parachute hardware, hack and band saw blades, hole saws and hammers. I did machine repair work on the gravity fed nail machines and we had a small unit that made rings out of the horseshoe nails. I was transferred to electrical maintenance due to a small layoff in machine repair.. I spent the rest of my working days as an electrician. Thank you Capewell for giving me a career that I enjoyed for 40 + years.

    ReplyDelete
  5. My name is Stuart Capewell and I write from Lincoln England. Really fascinating stuff reading about the Capewell nail factory, especially the photos. I am a descendant of the George Capewell who founded the company and was actually from Birmingham England, my city of birth.
    I have always wondered if there were any Hertford capewell's remaining,

    ReplyDelete
  6. Awesome informative post and I would like to refer it, Smart fencing hoping to see such posts again from you.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you for share very good info What a cool site for Capewell Manufacturing Company

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hartford is not sad. It's sad that some foolhardy people wish that manufacturing has any place in the future of America.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Totally the reverse - You are the foolhardy person. So do you think that this country doesn't need a good manufacturing base. Facebook, fast food chains, advertising don't cut it. That is why the country is in the back pocket of China and in debt.

      Delete
  9. I just happened by on Google Street View and saw that the boards were off the windows as of July 2015. The building is being renovated, not torn down. The plans are on the Capewell Lofts site, http://todesignllc.com/portfolio/affordable-housing/capewell-lofts Glad to see this substantial building will be preserved!

    ReplyDelete
  10. While unable to find any current Capewell manufacturing page, I did find the old corporate web site on the Wayback Machine, for those ingerested https://web.archive.org/web/20070709160948/http://www.capewellhorsenails.com/company/history.htm

    ReplyDelete
  11. While unable to find any current Capewell manufacturing page, I did find the old corporate web site on the Wayback Machine, for those ingerested https://web.archive.org/web/20070709160948/http://www.capewellhorsenails.com/company/history.htm

    ReplyDelete
  12. I just happened by on Google Street View and saw that the boards were off the windows as of July 2015. The building is being renovated, not torn down. The plans are on the Capewell Lofts site, http://todesignllc.com/portfolio/affordable-housing/capewell-lofts Glad to see this substantial building will be preserved!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I just wanted to add a comment to mention thanks for your post. This post is really interesting and quite helpful for us. Keep sharing.
    Industrial machines manufactures

    ReplyDelete