Thursday, June 20, 2013

Remington Rand New Business Incubator Tour

Michiel Wackers, Deputy Director of Middletown's Planning, Conservation and Developement department led the Planning and Zoning Commissions, Citizen's Advisory Committee on a tour of the available space in the former Remington Rand building, 180 Johnson St.,  which is owned by the city.

Wackers led a small crowd, which included the committee, two Common Council members and some interested residents, on a tour of the rough space, and provided a history of the building and a rundown of current and proposed tenants.

Currently, the building houses an eel breeding and export company, a coffee roaster (Zen Roasters), two breweries (Stubborn Beauty, which begins retail sales this week and Forest City, a nano-brewery), a gym, a body shop, and a landscape company.  Wackers said that with new tenants just signed, and several who are seriously interested, he predicted the entire first-floor space would be occupied by the end of the year.

After a sale of the building fell through a few years ago, the Planning office took the lead in pursuing clean-up of ground waste by former owners, and building renovations which make the space realistically usable.  The renovations have been funded by grants from the city.


Gary Keating (no relation but our family has done extensive research on Robert M. Keating) said...

The building in this article described as the " Remington Rand " building was designed and built in 1896 by Robert M. Keating, for the sole purpose of making world class bicycles, the most popular mode of transportation at the time. The "Keating Wheel Company" was one of the first factories run by electricity in the USA. The factory made bicycles, then progressed on to develop horseless carriages, cars, trucks, and eventually motorcycles. Robert M.Keating's patent for a motorcycle in 1901 predates "Indian" by a year!!!!! Keatings patents in this area allowed motorcycle greats such as Indian and Harley Davidson to develop their own cycles. In fact, Keating sued both companies for patent infringement and won both cases. There needs to be a more concentrated effort by the media, and Middletown officials, to have the buildings original builder and designer acknowledged for his patents, and innovations, and historical significants in Middletown history. The building should be recognized as the "Keating Wheel Company". Robert M.Keating holds a much more romantic, innovative, and historically important role in Middletown's history then Remington Rand!!!!!!! Just because Remington Rand was the last occupier of the building should not limit the buildings true history and its importance in U.S.A. and Middletown history of transportation development.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Gary. ... sorry I missed the tour of the Keating Wheel Building. Lookin good!!

johnny said...

there are plans to re-brand the building name to the keating era,are you still operating under the keating name?

Brian Keating said...

Brian Keating,
I agree also with Gary, 100%!! Let the true history be known and credited! Johnny--Garys my brother, and yes, I still and will always use the Keating namesake!
Lets do a fund raiser/motorcycle show sometime!! BPK!!

rkkeating said...

Keating's 1901 motorcycle puttered down Main Street in Middletown the same time that Oscar Hedstrom was working out the kinks of his own machine -- the prototype that would become the Indian. At the time, Middletown was the undisputed Motor City when it came to the American motorcycle. Keating's machine went to market months before Hedstrom's prototype and became popular enough to force Hedstrom and George Hendee of Indian fame to "borrow" key features to make their product competitive. As Gary noted, Harley and Davidson would later borrow the same components.

Keating was also one of the nation's earliest commercial automobile manufacturers -- both electric and gasoline powered. The historic parade that celebrated Middletown's 250th birthday, held in October of 1900, included four Keating Company vehicles -- including a motorized runabout. It would another year before Henry Ford started building his historic machines. (R.M.Keating family lore has it that Keating spent some time with Ford, helping him with factory design and assembly line production such as that already occurring in Middletown.) The factory then went on to host the Eisenhuth Compound automobile, one of the most innovative machines of the "brass era." Indeed, Middletown was one of the few American cities in the nation that was actively engaged in building automobiles. In CT, Middletown was second only to Hartford's Pope Company which was arguably the biggest in the nation at the time.

The point is, Middletown's history and the history of that remarkable historical asset on Johnson street is not about typewriters. It's about 19th century industrial innovation in America. Specifically, it's all about the pioneering efforts that forever changed the nation's transportation history. No exaggeration. Middletown owns that distinction and should celebrate it. With some creative thinking and planning (what Keating would have called "Yankee Ingenuity"), that distinction might also be branded to attract interests (and dollars) towards historic preservation, tourism and economic development.

Nice to see the unanimity in the comments on giving back the factory's identity to the man and the company that actually built it.

Anonymous said...

This building needs sprinklers! Totally not to code and dangerous!!!

Anonymous said...

Might be cool to bring some Wesleyan students to tour the space this fall/winter. Who can I contact to set that up?

Makaela Kingsley
Director, Wesleyan's Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship