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Harvard Auto Body Co.
Harvard Auto Body Company, 1920-1934; Bronx, New York
Associated Builders

Although the Harvard Auto Body Company engaged primarily in auto collision, painting and refinishing, they occasionally constructed bespoke bodies for local automobile dealers and residents. Their listing in Orr’s 1930 New York City business directory follows:

“Harvard Auto Body Co., (Custom Made Body Builders, Repairing and Painting), 3554 3d av and 1243-5 Fulton av., Tel. Jerome 1408-9”

Kimes & Clark state that “Harvard Body Company made about 10 closed aluminum bodies for the remaining chassis of the defunct Argonne automobile made in Jersey City, New Jersey after the firm’s assets were sold to Brisk & Beckleman, a New York City Dressmaking company located on 31st St. in 1920-1921.”

The firm’s general manager and body engineer was SAE member Alfred P. Smith (aka Alfred C. Smith) who applied for 2 automobile body patents, one for a taxicab body, during the late 1920s in association with Samuel Eichel.

Harvard operated out of a small shop located at 3554 3rd Avenue in the Bronx. The firm’s alternate 1243-5 Fulton Avenue address denotes the same plot and was likely its rear entrance. The firm was located between two Bronx breweries, the John Eichler Brewing Co. and David Mayer Brewing Co., and likely constructed commercial bodies for both firms, which for many years operated a fleet of electric delivery trucks.

Harvard was located between E. 168th & E. 169th Sts., one block due east of the Bronx Lebanon Hospital, which subsequently acquired both breweries’ property for use as a parking lot.

I could find no record of any advertisements or mention of the firm in the auto body trades, however they were sufficiently busy during the month of April, 1926, to advertise for employees in the Bridgeport, Connecticut newspapers, seeking:

“Auto metal workers – first class, Harvard Auto Body Co,. 3554 3rd Ave, New York City.”

Like many small firm their lasting legacy is a lawsuit, originally filed in 1926 by a former employee named Walter Macin, which set a precedent for future lead poising cases:

“For failures to give notice in lead poisoning cases occurring prior to 1928, see Macin v. Harvard Auto Body Co., 231 App. Div. 775.

“The employee, Macin, worked for the Harvard Auto Body Company painting automobiles with a brush in 1924 and 1925. Early in November, 1925, he contracted abdominal cramps, quit work and received treatment in a hospital for four days. His wife telephoned to the employer's office to say that he was ill. The hospital reported that he had inflammation of the intestines. He remained weak, away from work, and under treatment by a physician for three months until March 19, 1926, when the physician told him he had lead poisoning. The physician had found trace of lead in his blood. The Industrial Board, excusing his failure to give notice of the poisoning within thirty days on the ground that the disease had not been recognized within that time, awarded compensation to him. Upon appeal, the Appellate Division reversed the award and remitted the claim because the record did not show that he had come into contact with or handled lead within a year before his disablement:  Macin v. Harvard Auto Body Co., 231 App. Div. 775. The board took additional testimony and renewed the award. Upon second appeal, the court affirmed it unanimously and without opinion.”

This Bronx firm was unrelated to the Harvard Auto Body Corp., a 1950s-1960s Allston Massachusetts (Boston) Body Shop.

© 2004 Mark Theobald -






Beverly Rae Kimes & Henry Austin Clark Jr. - Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1942

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