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Wiremaking in Winsted

The making of wire was a profitable venture, and Winsted had a wire factory as early as 1812. It was run by Samuel and Luther Hoadley and James Boyd on the site of what would later be the office of the William L. Gilbert Clock Corporation. Hoadley and Boyd’s mill was one of the first in the country that broke down iron wire from the rod to as thin as human hair. Despite the obnoxious fumes from the insulating process, Stand & Sweet’s wire factory operated around-the-clock. Hudson Wire, a leader in its field, was the only plant of its kind, at that time, to produce insulated copper wire so fine that 25 strands equaled one strand of human hair. 

Hudson Wire: This partnership was established in 1902 in New Jersey and incorporated around 1907 in New York, by Joseph Royle and Robert Akin who were pioneer drawers of fine copper wire. The company designed many of the wire machines and processes that were in general use at the time.    

Hudson Wire acquired the Pequot Wire Cloth Company, of Norwalk, in 1928. In 1931, it purchased Winsted Insulated Wire and entered into the manufacture of magnetic wire at 981 Main Street. Their products were used very largely in the construction of radios and motors. 

Each year that the company operated in Winsted, its business increased 100 per cent, and Hudson Wire employed approximately 30 workers. The land that Hudson Wire occupied was originally the site of Winsted Auger and later Rice, Lathrop & Clary, manufacturers of table cutlery, Lathrop & Barton, and finally Empire Knife Company, which built the final plant before going out of business in the late 1920s. The building was demolished in 1989.  

Strand & Sweet: The company made enameled insulated wire and operated for a time at Fitzgerald Manufacturing. It was incorporated in 1921, with a $50,000 capital. By 1924, the business was growing, so partners Ralph E. Strand and James E. Sweet secured a site on Hubbard Street on which to build a suitable factory. 

The success of Strand & Sweet was short-lived, however, as dissention soon arose within the company. James Sweet severed his connections with the concern in 1927. Then, in 1928, Strand resigned as well, and was replaced by Edward P. Jones. In 1929, Strand & Sweet was absorbed by the Polymet Company and the factory was greatly enlarged. In the end, the 1929 financial crash greatly impacted the business, and it closed. 

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Winsted Insulated Wire: After James Sweet severed his connections with Strand & Sweet, in 1927, he started Winsted Insulated Wire, in the former Benjamin Richards factory on Lake Street, where he reportedly employed improved wire machines. The name of the company was eventually changed to Hudson Wire, and Irving E. Manchester served as president and treasurer. After a relatively long run, the final listing for Hudson Magnetic Wire, 981 Main Street, appeared in the 1987 city directory. The building was demolished around 1989.

Dano Electric: The company was described in a 1946 edition of the Connecticut Circle magazine (later Connecticut Magazine) as “a potent factor in Winsted’s industrial future.” 

The business was incorporated in 1936, by Walter V. Davey, who had started a coil winding business, in 1931, at the Empire Knife Shop plant. Davey had been associated with the enameling magnetic wire industry for years, so he brought much experience with him.  Within a year, Dano Electric purchased the Strong Manufacturing building, on the corner of Main and Rowley Streets, and relocated its 100 employees there. 

This successful company produced electrical coil windings and transformers. Dano Electric used multiple winding machines that made paper section coils, one of the most widely used forms of electrical windings at that time. It maintained a well-equipped machine and tool room that efficiently met the various specifications that its products required. The structure survived the 1955 flood and is now an office building. 

 

Taken from “Brains, Money & Pluck: Profiles of Early Industries” by Verna Gilson, genealogy and local history research assistant, Beardsley and  Memorial Library, Winsted.