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Singer Corporation is an American manufacturer of domestic sewing machines, first established as I. M. Singer & Co. in 1851 by Isaac Merritt Singer with New York lawyer Edward Clark. Best known for its sewing machines, it was renamed Singer Manufacturing Company in 1865, then the Singer Company in 1963. It is based in La Vergne, Tennessee, near Nashville. Its first large factory for mass production was built in Elizabeth, New Jersey, in 1863. - Wikipedia]


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1878 - Already competiton is becoming fierce, here none other than Thomas Edison is already working on an electric motor to power sewing machines:

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1899 - Singer has already established a close relationship with Edison competitor Diehl Manufacturing to provide it's electric motor needs:

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1914 - 

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1915 - A German-American civil engineer/aviation designer, Frederick Herman Leinweber has grand aspirations in aircraft design, particularly propellers... 



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1918 - Frederick Leinweber dies, and leaves all of his children his patent rights:








Of particular relevance to this story, Singer Manufacturing Co. buys an American electric motor manufacturing concern to provide domestically produced motors for their sewing machines, Diehl Manufacturing Co.: 
  Philip Diehl (one 'l' in Philip - lawyers misspelled it on at least two patents) was born on 29th of January 1847, in Dalsheim; he graduated from the Technical School at Darmstadt and, like Isaac Singer 50 years earlier, emigrated from Germany to the USA. The son of a physician, Diehl had been a locksmith and in 1868, aged 21, became a machinist (engineer) at the Singer factory in Mott Street, NYC. Two years later, he moved to run Singer's Chicago repair department under James Bolton - inventor of the New Family and the parlour cabinet - who must have recognised an ally in the resourceful young Diehl. His first patent was granted in 1873, for improvements to magic lanterns.  

                                                   Diehl and Miller's treadle ends were the first to bear the Singer logo
Diehl's home was one of the thousands consumed by the 1871 Chicago fire and he lost everything. In 1875, after the opening of the Elizabethport factory, Diehl was summoned - on Bolton's highest recommendation - to take charge of Singer's Experimental Division; later, as Head of Mechanical Construction. 

The new factory was one of the largest industrial establishments in the world, covering a 50 acre site which had four miles of its own railway in the yard alone. Also, the company was expanding rapidly and would be relying on Elizabethport for all the special tooling and machinery needed to equip the new plants in Canada and Scotland.

Singer was a victim of its own success: the more production tried to keep up with galloping sales and an ever-increasing catalogue, the more problems it encountered and the more solutions were needed from Diehl and his staff. Certainly, it is clear that for every 'new' invention they patented, there was another for improvements to existing mechanisms. Diehl held numerous patents for improved minor assemblies and parts. Indeed, in a contemporary report of his most ubiquitous invention, the electric ceiling fan, he was described as the man "who designs shuttles for Singer". By 1880, there had been 75 patents for electrical motors to drive domestic machines but none proved powerful enough to replace a treadle. Eventually, in 1884, Diehl successfully adapted a variable speed D.C. motor he'd recently patented for dentists' drills, and produced the first practical sewing machine motor. On the Singer stand at the International Electrical Exhibition that year, there were "several sewing machines run by various electric motors invented by Mr. Philip Diehl". The first integrated motor was fitted to Diehl's own Improved Family sewing machine. In 1887, in a fit of genius, he bolted blades to this motor, hung it upside down and the ceiling fan was born. That year, Diehl & Company was formed; later incorporated as the Diehl Manufacturing Co.
Ten years later, the Singer catalogue had swollen to 53 different models, comprising 360 different varieties and counting. Sales continued to rise uncontrollably but the factory was now efficient and the boom years had begun - largely due to Diehl and his life-long mission to perfect and create.  In the final years of Philip's life, Diehl Manufacturing Co, needed larger premises but Singer, too, was expanding and commandeered the space at Elizabethport. Diehl moved out; its exports were severely curtailed by WW1 and, in 1918, it was taken over and incorporated as the Diehl Division of Singer. Diehl continued submitting patent applications until the end, with many being granted posthumously. He died in the family home at 528 Morris Avenue, Elizabeth, NJ, on 7th April 1913

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1920 - 



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1921 - 









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1922 - The Leinweber brothers achieve modest success with their helicopter design, but their blade design gets more attention from investors. Is it looking familiar? Hi-Lo Fan Corporation is established with a loan of $200,000.00 dollars



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1923 - Hi-Lo Corp. diversifies ventilation sales with automobile-related marketing:

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1925 - The Leinweber Brothers continue developing the Leinweber blade design. Airmaster Corporation will later use Leinweber design variants on their early production ventilators and circulators.







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1927 - From Merchandising Week, 1927: Sinclair Equipment Company is contracted and finally merged with Hi-Lo Corporation to build ventilation products. L.F. Sinclair, President  Mr. Kissenger, VP   Albert Sabath - Secretary    Harry Olsen, G.M. of Sales and most notably Victor H. Leinweber - Manager of Industrial Sales, William H. Leinweber - Chief Engineer,   Curtis H. Leinweber - Factory Superintendent

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1928 - A young man, Herman C. Hueglin worked as secretary for the Federal Merchandise Company in the Marquette Building, 140 South Dearborn Street, previously working at Commonwealth Edison Co... 








                                                             While working at Commonwealth Edison, Hueglin meets a very powerful and rich man, Mr. William A. Fox, and scores a job as the executive secretary to Fox's firm, the Federal Merchandise Company, of which he is the president and director. Hueglin files for patents for a window fan design, and Fox is intrigued enough to invest in Hueglin, as the company inventor/developer and with Fox as chief investor and president : Here's a correspondence by Hueglin as secretary for Federal Merchandise, connecting him to Fox and Federal Merchandise.:

1928 is a good year for Hueglin. He applies for his first patents, but is listed as an employee of Federal Merchandise Company: 















While Hueglin is the inventor, his boss at Federal Merchandise Company, William A. Fox who bankrolledmanufacturing and marketing Hueglin's window fans through Federal Merchandise Company or through Fox's connections to his former workplace, Consolidated Edison:





The blades for the Hueglin Airmaster exhaust fans are cast solid aluminum, bearing the Leinweber patents (see post 11 in this thread to view the patents themselves: 



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1929 - 










































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1930 - 






     Photographs courtesy of the Mirin Image Archive:




























Diehl-badged examples of Hueglin's Airmaster ventilatior were marketed as the "Wind-O-Vent" ventilator, as early as 1929: 





Diehl Wind-O-Vent ventilation fan example from the Andrew Block Collection:



                              Solid cast-aluminum Leinweber patented blades:



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1931 - Hi-Lo suffers legal issues...

Meanwhile, Herman Hueglin is still working as secretary for Federal Merchandise Company, but he keeps inventing, applying for and recieveing patents for his ventilator fan designs, while president of Airmaster William A. Fox still manages the Airmaster Corporation affairs and marketing...  













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1932 - 

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1933 - 


An interesting anomaly in the Airmaster product line-up: A ten-inch oscillating desk fan manufactured by Chicago Flexible Shaft Company, of which Sunbeam is a Division. The motor appears to be a Diehl. The heavy aluminum blades are of multi-piece, overlapping and stamped construction:  Images courtesy of the Powell Collection: 






Another example, rear view:


Note the cage badge clearly identifying collaboration between Sunbeam Corp. and Airmaster Corporation: 







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1934 - 


Hueglin and Airmaster Corporation's first pedestal circulator, the Art-Deco step-base: 


A brief side-note regarding Airmaster Corporation and their blade designs for early production circulators; it would see by this example that initial production circulators used Leinweber Bros. blades - Image from the Huber Image Archive: 

Later production three wing Airmaster Corporation circulator blades were still designs help by the Leinweber Bro. To see these patents, refer to post 11 of this thread: 




Diehl 1/6th HP motors were procured to power the single and two speed motors: 



And the two-speed motor with it's "tombstone" shaped speed control housing: 

A quote from the man who owned one - "The 5 motor wires exit out that funky rear bell in the center into the junction box. They are pressed against the back of the inside of the junction box and 90 degree out to the power cord and levolier. The Sardine can cap is held in place by tabs inside the junction. Cardboard is behind it and in front. The levolier HAS to be mounted on the rear cover horizontal as to fit in the narrow slot between the cap and the bottom of the junction box. - Image and description courtesy of Russ Huber]
A close-up of the Singer product capacitor used in the two-speed Airmasters. 


Airmaster Corporation begins marketing it's patented five-wing exhaust/ventilation fans. 























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1935 - 1935 is a great year for Hueglin; The president of Airmaster Corporation William A. Fox retires, allowing Hueglin to finally be in charge of his own company. It is the last year he will be an assignor to Federal Merchandise Company:



























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1936 - Hueglin's second circulator design, the round leg base, and also his own design owned lock, stock and barrel not by Federal Merchandise Co., but his own Airmaster Corporation:


Example courtesy of the Huber Image Collection: 






The threaded pedestal base very conveniently unscrews for shipping. The previous "step-base" model bases were not designed for disassembly, as the tube pedestal was pressed over the base, and the neck pressed into the pedestal neck.

Airmaster Arm - Period photograph by Andre Kertesz




Airmaster begins marketing for Sears and Roebuck, rebranding the Airmaster fans with the Kenmore badges: 












































 - -  -  -  - 
























1936 - 1936 -1936-  1936 - 1936 - 1936 - 1936 -  1936 - 1936 - 1936 - 

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1937 -





Airmaster pedestal - Mirin Collection





2 Speed Diehl Airmaster Circulator - Durbin Collection









Airmaster circulators are rebadged and sold as Kenmore and Command-Air for Sears & Roebuck department stores for a second year now: 






 





                                                                                  
 1937- 1937 -  1937 -   1937 -  1937 -   1937 - 1937 - 1937 - 1937 -  1937 -              1937 -             1937 -             1937 -            1937 -   1937 - 1937 - 

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1938 - Airmaster Corporation's old blade supplier, Hi-Lo Corporation (Leinweber Bros), dissolves the corporation in 1938: 




Airmaster Corporation and Hueglin continue to soldier on:





Airmaster is making re-badged circulators with the last of the Leinweber blades for Sears & Roebuck for their Kenmore appliance "Command-Aire" line: 










Shown in this close-up is the original "green-crackled finish" from the factory: 




















Aviator, inventor and designer James M. Funk of Ottawa, Canada is hired by Airmaster Corporation to design a new circulator blade - James M. Funk photograph is courtesy of the Huber Image Archive: 





Sears now marketing Airmaster exhaust fans under the Command-Aire label:

1938 - 
1938 - 
1938 - 
1938 - 

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1939 -.








The blade on this fan is likely a replacement, the fan is a Diehl oscillating chrome Airmaster: 















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1940 - 










Airmaster is making re-badged circulators for Sears & Roebuck for their Kenmore appliance line:











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1941 - World War Two is started when the U.S declares war on Imperial Japan after their sneak attack on our fleet at Pearl Harbor. 

A few days later, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy declare war on the United States to honor their Axis Treaty with Imperial Japan: 

Hueglin recieves a patent for his two-wing design:

 










Diehl Airmaster rebadged as "Command-Air" for Sears & Roebuck, wood blades replace aluminum as aluminum became a strategic war material during wartime.



                                                                                                                                                                           James M. Funk, designer of Airmaster's 1938 blade design dead way before his time...





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1942 - As seen earlier, precious war material cast-aluminum blades are replaced with wooden blades, to include the Leinweber designed exhaust fan blades. Images courtesy of the Cherry Collection:




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1943 - Herman Hueglin makes a $200.00 charity donation to the All-Star Army Emergency Relief Fund. A lot of familiar names in Illinois industry here: 

 

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1944 - America is still fighting the war, and Airmaster Corporation and Diehl Manufacturing Co. are busy fulfilling government war contracts. Many of the workers have joined up, or were drafted to fight inthe armed forces, while others are sent to specialty schools with an eye to the post-war future: 



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1945 - The United States and it's allies prevail, the war is over: 











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1946 - People are coming back home to an America of a million opportunities, prosperity and jobs. Diehl Manufacturing Co. and Airmaster Corporation have a record number of old and new employees and positions available. While workers at Airmaster seem happy with no labor or union issues, Diehl Manufacturing Co. employees and their union representatives seem to plague the company with seemingly endless complaints, wage demands, go-slow production, walk-outs and bad publicity. Years from now, the parent company, Singer Manufacturing Co. will be glad to be rid of the Diehl Division in New Jersey, moving production to the American South. 

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1947 - 





Shown here is the Airmaster multi-piece construction used by Airmaster based on the above patent: Images courtesy of the Foley Collection: 







 

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1948 - Air circulators made by Airmaster Corp. are being marketed by Diehl:









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1949 - 



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1950 - The stockholders unanimously sell out. Airmaster Corporation is dissolved, and becomes the Airmaster Division of Diehl Manufacturing Corp.



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1951 - A very interesting blade material variation has surfaced, mentioned in the Hueglin patent for blade design and assembly U.S. 2542251 - 





 




This Diehl circulator example has factory plastic blades, a scarcely encountered material mentioned in the 2542251 patent, kindly shared from the Welker Collection: 





The circular depressions in the backs of the blades are likely for balancing purposes:





The black plastic blades seem to have a coating of aluminum colored paint simulating cast-aluminum:








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1952 - Airmaster begins using motors sourced from a new contractor, known as Electro-Machines, Incorporated, from Cedarsburg, Wisconsin.  Images generously provided from the G. Buchanan Collection


















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1953 - Growing pains at Airmaster Corporation: 
 
The issue gets resolved: 

 

Airmaster still making circulators for Diehl to market: 
















The new electric motor supplier to Diehl/Airmaster, Electro-Machines, Inc., changes to Doerr Electric Corp, still located in Cedarsburg, Wisconsin:

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1954 - Still hiring at Airmaster Corporation: 





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1955 - Diehl's labor issues still plague them, however, sales continue..
  



Note the OSHA-style safety cage on this oscillating model Diehl pedestal:











Airmaster Corporation is still producing at their factory, so much so that they continue to hire new workers to keep up with the demand: 



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1956 - Airmaster Corporation still hiring workers..

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1957 - Airmaster Corporation opens it's facilities for free-lance, industrial hire:

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1958 - The principle founder, inventor and president of Airmaster Corporation, Herman C. Hueglin dies, 65 years old:

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1960 - 










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1961 - 



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1963 - Diehl's mismanagement and the Teamster's stubborness signals the beginning of the end for Diehl Manufacturing Co., cutting the company's employee work force in more than half, so Diehl starts cutting divisions: 

                                                                                            Singer Corporation, Diehl's parent company sells the Airmaster Division of Diehl Manufacturing in November of 1963 to Hayes Industries, Incorporated of Jackson, Michigan, a manufacturer of car parts and plane components, and now apparently, circulators...

Note the motor by Century Electric:







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1964 - 

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1965 - 

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1966 - 



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1967 - 

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1968 - 

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1969 - 





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1971 - 




















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1972 - Airmaster sold again to Oppel, Inc. 








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1960 - The death throes of Diehl....


1972 - 


1977 - 









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This was the factory ran by Herman Hueglin when he was finally running his own company, Airmaster Corporation, 4317 Ravenswood Avenue, Chicago, Illinois: 


It's now the home of Continental Assembly Co.: 

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I could use some help here, guys. This is a definite Diehl product, but I can't turn up more information than this circulator. I have found multiple example images, but no official Diehl information regarding it. The Diehl list number is Cat. No. 53216DM, and is likely near the end of the cast aluminum, multi-pieced blades. Please don't post the information, PM it to me, I'll place the information where it should go and delete this post and replace it with something else: 




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Somewhere between 1972 and 2013, Oppell, Inc. sells Airmaster to Airmaster Fan Co, which is in turn owned by MAICO, a German investment firm owning many companies for ventilation products and more.

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2013 to 2020 - Airmaster Fan Company 9229 S. Meridian Rd., Clarklake, MI 49234

"Airmaster Fan’s history originates in 1886 as the first electrical fan was patented by the Diehl Fan Company. Over the next century, Airmaster Fan acquired the Chelsea, Brundage and Power Line Fan companies and marketed each brand separately. To streamline operations, sales and marketing of circulation/ventilation products were consolidated in 2002 to one name, Airmaster Fan Company.   
 
In 2013, Airmaster Fan was purchased by another family business from Germany, the Maico group. The Maico group is a globally recognized leader in ventilation products and are known for their product quality, reliability and reputation.  Maico also brings additional new market opportunity, fan innovation and product expertise to Airmaster Fan.  Airmaster Fan is proud to be a part of the Maico group and we look forward to future growth.
 
Today, Airmaster Fan manufactures, designs and warehouses product in Clarklake, Michigan. We also maintain stocking warehouses across the United States keeping people, processes and plants cool. Airmaster Fan exports throughout the world and offers the largest line of air moving equipment in North America. Our goal is to be the preferred supplier of complete air circulation, ventilation and heating solutions in North America ;as well as, other global markets. At Airmaster Fan we value our relationships and work continuously to provide you with the highest quality circulation/ventilation fans in the industry." 
 

Last edited on Fri Feb 12th, 2021 01:58 am by Mike Kearns

Mike Kearns
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Overall, I think I got a good start, although I am waiting for advertising, catalog and model images and information from several collectors to fill in the gaps. I'll be adding more over time as new quality images become available. If there is any relevant information you could share, I'd be very thankful for it, include it in the proper area of the timeline and gladly give you full credit for it. I would prefer ideally clean, in-focus images of original literature and un-modified circulators. Some of my images used will likely be replaced when I find better quality samples. I check my PM daily, please send me what you have, particularly 1953 to the end of production Diehl Manufacturing circulators. You guys have been great being patient while I got this together, thanks to you all, I hope you will enjoy.   Very best, Mike

Last edited on Fri Feb 12th, 2021 02:02 am by Mike Kearns

Levi Mevis
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Mike Kearns wrote: 1943 - Herman Hueglin makes a $200.00 charity donation to the All-Star Army Emergency Relief Fund. A lot of familiar names in Illinois industry here: 

 

Dick Snideman, Elkhart, Indiana, the 4th name up from the bottom of the list of donors to the aforementioned Charity Donation Drive was involved in starting what is now known as NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and was a Native of Elkhart, Indiana, the city I've lived in for all my life. 

See his Obituary below. 


Attachment: Dick Snideman Obituary.pdf (Downloaded 123 times)

Andrew Block
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Edward Clark was the brains behind the Singer operation. Isaac Singer was apparently a brilliant inventor but a complete wackjob behind the scenes. Married multiple times and fathered many children. Clark hit upon financing and trade-ins, which allowed the Singer sewing machine to find its way into many homes across the US.


Clark was also a real estate developer, known primarily for developing the Dakota on the upper West side of Manhattan in 1884. The Dakota was the first "luxury" building in New York, built specially to woo people who would otherwise live in private homes into multi unit dwellings. The apartments ranged from 4 to 20 rooms and were detailed with coal burning fireplaces and inlaid floors. Clark built himself a large apartment on the 7th floor, including a living room that was 49'x24'. Clark put his own apartment on the upper floors to try to popularize upper floor living, as elevators were primitive at the time. Dakota elevators were water powered when it was originally built. Clark died before the building was completed and left it to his 12 year old grandson. 


The Dakota would later gain notoriety by being featured as the Bramford in "Rosemary's Baby", and later, as the site of John Lennons assassination. I lived there in the early 2000's in what was once the servants quarters on the upper floors. It was an amazing building to explore; the interior is virtually unchanged in the public spaces from when the building was built.





Mike Kearns wrote: Singer Corporation is an American manufacturer of domestic sewing machines, first established as I. M. Singer & Co. in 1851 by Isaac Merritt Singer with New York lawyer Edward Clark. Best known for its sewing machines, it was renamed Singer Manufacturing Company in 1865, then the Singer Company in 1963. It is based in La Vergne, Tennessee, near Nashville. Its first large factory for mass production was built in Elizabeth, New Jersey, in 1863. - Wikipedia]

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Mike Kearns
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A period sales floor image, May 30, 1937 -



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