Maplewood History: The Al-Bro Manufacturing Company

Maplewood has been a good location for many businesses.  Many have come and gone and left no trace.  Al-Bro Manufacturing Company might have been one of those except they left a building and a brochure.

Due to my less than meticulous record keeping I no longer remember where the brochure came from.  It might have been in the large stack of stuff I was given when the American Legion Hall closed  their doors.  Or maybe I found it at the library?

It doesn’t matter.  I copied it from somewhere and here it is.

The cover.

A closer look at their building. Those curved building corners, metal window frames and what looks like glass blocks on the corner identify it as Art Moderne…I think.  Any comments?

During the Sahara Oil years, those streamlined curves were hidden behind a faux tudor facade.

This ad posted on October 5, 1947 is the earliest mention I find of the company in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch archives.

The inside of their four page brochure gives us an idea of what they were up to.

The back cover displays a couple of interesting images.

We can just make out “Savings and Loan” on this large sculptural medallion. The buffing the man is doing is in their line of work but the creation of the piece of advertising is not. First an artist was required to draw it. Then a sculptor would create a 3D model out of clay. A mold would be made.  Then the piece would be cast out of metal in this case probably aluminum. None of that was done on site or at least their brochure doesn’t indicate that it was. They didn’t do foundry work.  They did, however, do polishing which is what the gentleman in the photo is doing.

This ad from September 27, 1950 is how they found him.

This picture of the draftsmen is interesting to me. I am intimately familiar with the lamp on their drafting tables. It was made by Dazor Manufacturing which was located at Duncan and Taylor. This used to be just east of Jewish Hospital. The whole site has been demolished and rebuilt since I got my first real, summer job there in 1965. My Uncle Lester was a foreman. He fudged my age by a few months to 16 so I could get a work permit. There was nothing that was fun about working in that factory. I was glad to get back to school when the summer was over.  54 years later I still recognize all of the separate parts that make up that lamp.

Part of the Al-Bro building is visible in this photograph I took of the steam train on October 18, 2016.

 

12 thoughts on “Maplewood History: The Al-Bro Manufacturing Company

  1. The “engineer” with the string is probably wearing a “bib” to protect his shirt and tie from pencil lead and/or ink. No CAD in those days.
    Also, the drawing tables probably had a metal “straight edge” across the bottom of the work surface. Those could get fairly messy with erasure debris and then grab the loose end of a tie. The draftsman working seated had his clothes more at risk.

    My father spent several decades at a drafting table and often had “racing stripes” across his mid-section. He also frequently wore his tie tucked into his shirt to keep from dragging pencils, etc off the table.

  2. Doug, in the brochure photo, the engineer who is seated appears to have a cord tied around his waist. I wonder just what it was securing—an apron? I thought at first maybe it was just meant to keep any loose clothing from interfering with his tasks, the way a bank teller might have sleeve garters. Since you worked for the Dazor outfit, did you ever see something like that there?

    • This comment from reader Mike explains it. “The “engineer” with the string is probably wearing a “bib” to protect his shirt and tie from pencil lead and/or ink. No CAD in those days.
      Also, the drawing tables probably had a metal “straight edge” across the bottom of the work surface. Those could get fairly messy with erasure debris and then grab the loose end of a tie. The draftsman working seated had his clothes more at risk.

      My father spent several decades at a drafting table and often had “racing stripes” across his mid-section. He also frequently wore his tie tucked into his shirt to keep from dragging pencils, etc off the table.”

  3. hate to say it but the original building looked much better than what it looks like now. I say take off the overlay and bring back the original!!

    • I’m not sure what “overlay” you are referring to. The faux tudor covering is long gone. The building has been returned to its almost original state.

      • Doug I am referring to the 1 x 4 strapping that is set in place around the building. Makes it look like some sort of tudor style to me. I thought it was wood and stucco that had been added to the face of the building.

        • Does the building have this on it in the photograph with the steam train? I’ll have to take a close look. I thought it had been stripped down to the original bricks. At least it is on the rounded corners.

  4. Man, that’s cool. I like places like that and it’s a shame they are not still there doing that same work.

    • I couldn’t agree more, Gary. They advertised for a metal polisher for ornamental aluminum and bronze work. I guess that is what the Al-Bro is an abbreviation of …aluminum and bronze. If they did much ornamental work there is no telling what cool things they must have worked on.

  5. You know it was a very long time ago when the pictures of Al-Bro Manufacturing were taken. Their phone number was only 6 digits. STerling 6222.