Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Editorial: Clearing up a name while cleaning up at the Keating Wheel factory; AKA: Remington Rand!

I was delighted to read that the long over due cleanup of this property’s brownfields has a confirmed funding source and a chance at a new lease on life. With it should come a recognition of the buildings historical significance and a return to it’s given name, the Keating Wheel Company, which was originally built as a bicycling manufacturing plant in 1896. The design/layout of the factory was considered to be state of the art, and was noted for it’s considerable innovations. It is understandable how the name Remington Rand came into use, as it is a well-known name, and rolls easily off the tongue. I suspect there was no conscious intent on anyone’s part to permanently name the property Remington Rand, it just got used often enough and the name stuck. This building has not been listed on the Design Review and Preservation (DR&P) Board’s list of historic properties, which includes only a dozen, or so buildings of this type still standing in the city. A request that is an easy ask away.
Returning to the historical name of the building, the Keating Wheel Company will show consistency, as so many other historical buildings in the city have retained their original name in our city’s common usage. More importantly it will bring a hint of recognition to one of the remaining U.S. turn-of-the-century bicycling manufacturing buildings still standing—out of an estimated 1400 that existed between 1880-1900—and also honor the city’s rich industrial and manufacturing history.

A special thanks goes out to Professor Robert McCullough at the University of Vermont’s Historic Preservation Program, who has done considerable research on turn on the century bicycle factories, including the Keating Wheel Company's bicycle manufacturing factory here in Middletown.

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