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A Flourishing Factory

A Flourishing Factory image
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The manufacture of carriages is a vigorous industry in Ann Arbor, and one in whieh her citizens take a just pride. A leading house in this business is that of Walker & Co., proprietors of the Ann Arbor Carriage Works. At the shops, 9 and 11 "West Liberty-st, and 21 and 23 Ashley-st, from eighteen to twenty men are constantly employed, turning out over 700 carriages, coaches and sleighs each year. The firm is composed of Messrs. George Walker, Michael Grossmann and Christian Braun. They raake a specialty of phaetons and surreys, aiming always to produce the newest and nobbiest of designs in the best of workmanship. A visit to the works is interesting and profitable. On the ground floor of No. ) Liberty-st, and in the building 21 and 23 Aehley-st, all the iron work is ' done. This department is under the personal supervisión of Mr. Braun, who is himself a thorough first-emss mechante. Here aleo they do their own metal burnishing, the power being j nished by a water motor. On the second ; [loor is the paint shop and body-finishing room, of which Mr. Grossraann is toreruan. The third floor is the gear i finishing room, where the last touches are put on. Here, too, is the trimming department. The firm manufacture a cushion of which they are particularly proud. Instead of having a single set of springs, set in the middle of the cushion, it has an extra set at the top, in the place where the weight of the body presses lardest. Steel wires are employed to seep them in position On the third floor, also, the carriage tops are manufactured. In this room may sometimes be found 125 tops, etacked up to await the spring demand, at which season of the year the trade is particularly brisk. The ground floor of No. 11 West Liberty-st is the carriage repository and salesroom, where may be found a line of stylish carriages, dignified - looking coaches, graceful phaetons, nobby surreys and jaunty sleighs, that would move the sesthetic spirit of the most phlegniatic visitor. In the rear of the works is a large three-story frame building, used as a warehouse and repairing shop. In the loft 350 sets of wheels are being seasoned by the sun. A LITTLE HISTORY. The Ann Arbor Carriage Works were established by Christian Walker in 1867. In 1873, his brother, George Walker, joined him in the business, the flrm name being Walker & Bro. The factory was situated just where it now is, but was, at that time, very small. However, business increased so rapidly that in a short time the works had to be materially enlarged. The premises on Ashley [the'n Second) street were purchased, accordingly, and a frame structure erected. This now forms a part of the I blacksmith shop. In 1888, upon the ! death of Christian Walker, Michael ; Grossmann purchased of the estáte an interest in the works, and Christian i Braun was admitted to partnership, the new firm continuing the business under the name of Walker & Co. The output has nearly doubled in the last year. The building and lot adjoining the works on the east have recently been purchased. These premises, now i pied by Grossmann & Schlenker, will ' soon be vacated by them, to permit the erection of a handsome brick building by Walker Sc Co., the upper floors of i which will be used as an addition to the works. Walker &, Co. are also contemplating the building of another brick structure extending from the rear of Jio. 7 out to Ashley-st. Large sales are made in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Adrián, Ray City and ! Saginaw, while carloads of carriages are f requently shipped to the state of Washington, Texas, and even to Australia. To the latter point a shipment of i buggies was made but a few weeks ago. Walker & Co. are constantly bringing out the latest designs. The Kuesian rood wagon, a very handsome vehicle, is one of their latest manufactures. This style is so new that it is scarcely eeen on the streets in this state, and it is a novelty everywhere. A carload of these wagons has just been shipped to a house in New Hartford, Conn. THE PBOPRIETORS. George Walker, the senior partner and general business manager of the flrm, was born in Wittenberg, Germany, in 1849. His father was a farmer, and a man of high standing in the commucity where he lived, the office of mayor of his native city having been offered bim on several occasions, and as often declined. In 1873, George emigrated to America, coming direetly to Ann Arbor to join his brother. Although it was his first work in a carriage shop, the new member of the firm soon proved invaluable. The business was enlarged at once, and has continued to increase in volume each year to the present time. Mr. Walker superintends the woodwork. Michael Grossmann was bom in Ann Arbor, in 1855. He accepted the Btern duties of life when but twelve years old. Entering the employ of Keek & Bissenger, furniture manufacturera, he served his time at the upholstering trade. Leaving Ann Arbor for a few years, he went to Detroit and worked as a carriage trimmer. In these two places Mr. Grossmann obtained the experience and technical skill which now make his services so valuable as foreman of the departments of trimming and painting. Mr. Grossmann, moreover, sometiines serves his firm as a salesman on the road. He began work for Walker & Bro. in 1875, and in 1888 became a member of the firm, ('hristian Braun was born in Brooklyn, N. Y., in 1856. He was a farmer boy. At the age of seventeen he began work as a blacksmith in a osrriage factory. In 1875 he carne to Ann Arbor and entered the employ of Walker & Bro., with hom he remained until 1888, when he became a partner in the business. Each member of the firm is, thus, a skilled mechanic and a specialist. Each lias his department. As all are thorougb, practical workmen, they hesitate at no work in their line, however delicate or novel. Until recently they had never turned out anything in the shape of a delivery wagon at their factory. One of the leading retail firms of tïie city, however, came to them a short time ago and asked them to submit designs for such a vehicle. ïhe result is that they will soon have on the streets one of the handsomest delivery wagons to be seen in the city.


Old News
Ann Arbor Register