Beatty Museum and Historical Society - Beatty Nevada - Gateway to Death Valley National Park and the Heart of the Bullfrog Mining District

Beatty Museum & Historical Society in Beatty, Nevada

 

Lovell Wringer and Washer

April 2010 - Monthly Online Showcase

Antique Clothes Wringer & Washer

Donated by: Don Hagstrom

This item is on display at Beatty, Museum in Beatty, Nevada and is the museum's online showcase item this month. Click on an image to see a larger version of the picture.

The wringer clamped onto the tub was manufactured by The Lovell Wringer Company of Erie, Pennsylvania. The National Outfitting Company may have been a distributor of the wringer or a hardware store where it was sold. On the wooden portion of this wringer, still faintly visible, are the words "This wringer has rust proof rolls. Patented 2/20/04" (1904).

The tub appears to be a manufactured tub used for washing. The corrugations on the washer are characteristic of a wash tub in which one could use a variety of washer mechanisms.

A history of the Lovell Company follows.
Research and history provided by Barbara Piatt.

Lovell Wringer & Washer
Lovell Wringer & Washer
Lovell Wringer & Washer

History of Lovell Manufacturing

The founder of Lovell Manufacturing was Melvin Newton Lovell (1844-1895). A carpenter by trade, he established his home in Erie, Pennsylvania in 1865 where four years later, he secured patents on several household articles. The same year, he and Franklin F. Adams began a partnership F. F. Adams & Company to produce wood products such as stepladders and manual washing machines. Their small factory was at 14th and Cherry Streets, but the endeavor did not last long and his three stepbrothers created Lovell Manufacturing Company at 523 and 526 French Street. Initially, the company produced only spring beds but by 1882 the company expanded and incorporate, producing other types of wire and spring products including their mouse and rat traps. At the same time they subsumed Lovell's installment loan company and embarked on the chain store business with installment loan payment with locations in New York City, Buffalo, Philadelphia, Boston and many others. By late 1890, they had more stores than the Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company and Jewel Tea Company.

In 1883, the Lovells contracted the first segment of their factory at 13th and French Streets. The small building encompassed the wood and iron working operations, japanning, tempering, varnishing, and storage and shipping areas. New product lines included corn shellers, dynamos (an early name for generators), folding wood chairs, and hammocks.

There, years after Lovell's death in 1895, the company filed a friendly bankruptcy with its creditors, which was amicably resolved. The company emerged from financial difficulty, incorporated again, and took charge of even more of its own productions to avoid supplier charges that had led to its crisis.

Over the following two decades, the company retrenched, closing its retail stores and concentrating on a more limited range of production with more vertical integration of operations. The physical plant expanded with a three story annex that covered a half block in length. This increased the wire working storage, varnishing, and wringer operations and added a machine shop and dry kilns, a well as, expanded lumberyard storage. The company was able to produce 300 wringers per day and was booming on domestic demand by World War I. After the war came the company's final construction surge in which the major portion of the existing facility was constructed. By 1921, the building more than doubled in size, filling the entire oblong block. The company had a rubber department for wringer rolls, an iron department, and a large new facility for assembling their new line of power-operated wringers. Wringers would later be manufactured from cast iron then later cast aluminum rather than wood. The wood working department found new product lines in hockey sticks, other sport items, and in clacks, the wood-soled sandal used by workers in coke ovens. The quality and character of Lovell products kept the company afloat during the depression despite two or three bad years.

World War II curtailed metal wringer production. Despite their small machine shop, Lovell nonetheless engaged in wartime production of unspecified parts. Employment escalated to 1,000 people and production soared to its highest levels. Immediately after the war, employment fell somewhat to 800 as they resumed wringer production. The company turned out one million units per year using 35-40 tons of sheet, strip and bar steel per day. The roller department used 8,000 pounds of rubber daily and 4,500 board feet of lumber. The company manufactured the chassis and working parts for wringers as well. In 1948, they added electric dryers to their line (although not under the Lovell name) to hold Lovell's place as automatic agitator washers threatened to displace Lovell's traditional line.

In August 1967, Lovell became a subsidiary of Patterson-Erie Company, a local investor-controlled holding company. Patterson-Erie planned a new production facility in Lake City, 18 miles west of Erie. The company had ceased to be a consumer producer and instead was manufacturing capital components for other industrial concerns. Their largest division, metal fabricating and appliance, was fully integrated for precision work in forming, fabricating, and all metal finishing processes. By the late 1960's, Lovell made metal cabinets for humidifiers and portable televisions, plus assemblies for computers, office copiers, and other office machines.

The Company continued operations at its 13th and French location until 1974, when along with Patterson-Erie, it moved to its new headquarters. The original building remained vacant for six years until 1980 when a number of tenants began to occupy sections of the facility including a management corporation office, an electronics firm, and a realtor. In 1990, a small revival of the building's original purpose occurred when Quinn Machine & Tools became a tenant. In October of that same year, Steve McGarvey purchased the entire building and is leasing space to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, which included the Department of Public Welfare, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, Office of Unemployment Compensation Referee's Office, Blindness and Visual Services, Office of the Bureau of Workmen's Compensation, St. Martin's Learning Center, Team Pennsylvania-Career Line, and the Erie Book Store, along with many residential tenants who call their state-of-the-art apartment at Lovell Place "home".

Research and history provided by Barbara Piatt.