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LEFT Derby Desk Company. Vernon Street, Somerville, Massachusetts, c.1912. Library and Archives purchase.

The Derby Desk Company was established in Boston in 1870 and moved to Somerville, Massachusetts, in the 1880s. By the time this print was made, about 1912, the Somerville Board of Trade described the company as "the largest manufacturing industry in the world devoted exclusively to the manufacture of office furniture. Occupying ten acres of floor space, it has made and sold over two million desks, and designed special and artistic furniture for the principal banks, libraries, public institutions, and corporations throughout the United States."

In this illustration, probably made for advertising purposes, the factory is depicted as monumental, fortress-like, presiding benignly (despite the spewing smokestacks) over the surrounding well-landscaped residential neighborhood. The company's involvement in the modern world is emphasized by the transportation network of trains, trucks, and automobiles and by the design of the industrial architecture of the newer buildings in the complex.

The acquisition of this image, together with that of a group of approximately forty similar illustrations of New England industrial complexes produced by Woodbury and Company of Worcester, Massachusetts, and recently donated by Kimball Woodbury, supports SPNEA's efforts to document the constantly-changing built environment of New England.

-Lorna Condon
Director of Library & Archives

 

BELOW Advertisement in the 1890 Boston Directory.

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