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Metropolitan Auto and Carriage Co., Metropolitan Body Co.
Metropolitan Carriage Co. 1908-1912; Metropolitan Auto and Carriage Co. 1912-1919; Metropolitan Body Co., 1919-1948; Metropolitan Body Co., div. of International Harvester Corp., 1948-1968; Bridgeport, Connecticut
Associated Builders
International Harvester Corp.

Although they were closely allied with International Harvester after the Second World War, Bridgeport, Connecticut's Metropolitan Body Co. offered body catalogs for Chevrolet, Dodge Bros. and Ford chassis during the late 1930s and were pioneers in the development of COE (cab over engine) route delivery bodies.

Founded by brothers Philip and William Carlson, two Jewish brothers who were born in Novo-Mish, Russia, a one-time Polish community located near modern-day Minsk, Belarus.

Philip Carlson was born on March 24, 1885 to Ezekiel and Bessie (Wenge) Сarlson. His younger brother William was born on April 23, 1886, and a third brother, Julius, on December 15, 1893. Philip and William emigrated to the United States in 1905-1907, first arriving in Manhattan, after which they made their way to Bridgeport, Connecticut where they joined forces in the establishment of a small carriage shop at the corner of Main Street and Columbus Place.

Originally established as the Metropolitan Carriage Co., they relocated to 430-434 Grand street in late 1911 and commenced to manufacture commercial bodies for light truck chassis, reorganizing as the Metroplotian Auto & Carriage Co. in 1912.

The November 1911 issue of The Carriage Monthly reported on the firm's new quarters:

“Carlson Bros., the proprietors of the Metropolitan Carriage Co., Bridgeport, Conn., are building new quarters on Grand Street. The building is 50 x 150 feet and absolutely fireproof, being entirely of cement. In connection with their business as carriage dealers, they will also conduct an automobile department.”

The March 1912 issue of the same publication (Carriage Monthly) provided a few more details of the new facility:

“The Metropolitan Carriage Co., Bridgeport, Conn., has just completed a modern concrete structure two stories high. The first floor accommodates the office automobile repairing room and forging department with a stock room in the rear. On the second floor are the woodworking and body building departments and the paint and varnish room. A large elevator has been installed and all power used is furnished by the electric current.”

Business was brisk and the December 3, 1914 issue of American Machinist reported on a further addition to the manufactory:

“The Metropolitan Auto & Carriage Co., Bridgeport, Conn., is having plans prepared for the construction of a three story addition to its garage on Grand St.”

On October 8, 1914 Philip Carlson married Miss Rose Landes of New York City, and to the blessed union were born two children; Leonard Philip (b.1919-d.2010) and Fanny Betty Carlson. Soon afterwards William Carlson married Miss Frances Faust, and to their union was born two daughters; Ruth F. (m. Horn) and Beatrice M. (m. Fosman) Carlson.

Although Philip and William's younger brother Julius was involved in the firm for a number of years he eventually etablished a successful Bridgeport-based real estate business, remaining active in the field until 1982 when he passed away at the age of 88.

Business remained brisk into the late teens, the February 1, 1917 issue of The Horseless Age reporting on yet another addition:

“Addition for Body Plant - Work has been started on an addition to the plant of the Metropolitan Auto & Carriage Co., Bridgeport, Conn., which will be devoted exclusively to the manufacture of commercial bodies. The new plant will be completed about May and will provide about 20,000 square feet of floor space.”

The February 1917 issue of the Hub provided a few more details:

“The Metropolitan Auto and Carriage Co., Bridgeport, Conn., is building a large addition to its present factory, which, when completed, will give the company 28,000 sq. ft. of floor space, devoted exclusively to the manufacture of commercial automobile bodies. New elevators being installed will permit the handling of trucks as heavy as ten tons. Much new equipment is going into the factory, and a modern up-to-date plant is being evolved.”

Just as the new addition was completed, the United States entered the First World War which resulted in the sudden cancellation of new body orders. The December 30, 1918 issue of the Bridgeport Telegram reports on a lien placed on the firm's new factory by one of its creditors:

“Material Not Paid for, Asks Lien Foreclosure

“Property on Hurd avenue has been attached in a suit brought by the Lyon Iron Works of New Haven against William Carlson of this city, doing business under the name of the Metropolitan Auto and Carriage company. The Lyon Iron Works claims to have furnished material for the building on the Hurd avenue property. The material was valued at $4,310 and it is said that $2,059 is still due. A lien has been placed on the property and the court is asked to allow a foreclosure of this lien. The suit is returnable to the Superior court, January term.”

Once the Armistice was signed business returned to its pre-war levels and the January 29, 1919 issue of the Bridgeport Standard Telegram reported on the firm's recapitalziation and reorganization as the Metropolitan Boduy Company:

“METROPOLITAN BODY CO. Capitalizes at $200,000—Business Outlook Good, Says Carlson.

“Certificate of incorporation has been filed with the Town Clerk by the Metropolitan Body Co. of this city. The plant of the concern is located on Grand street, where business has been conducted since 1914. The company builds motor truck bodies and has recently opened show rooms and offices in both New York and Boston. The capital stock of the company under the new organization is $200,000 most of which has been paid in according to William Carlson one of the officers.

“Mr. Carlson stated last night that the business of the concern is growing; and that the present outlook is bright.”

Under 'real estate transactions', same page:

“William and Philip Carlson to the Metropolitan Body Company, three pieces of realty, buildings, stock, fixtures and good will of business, two pieces on Hurd avenue and one on Grand street.”

Not only was Philip Carlson a good businessman, he was a talented engineer who during his lifetime was awarded the following US patents:

US Pat. 1332424 - Filed Jul 23, 1919 - Issued Mar 2, 1920 Tail Gate
US Pat. 1563159 - Filed Nov 9, 1923 - Issued Nov 24, 1925 Windshield
US Pat. 1720317 - Filed Apr 6, 1926 - Issued Jul 9, 1929 Cab for Trucks
US Pat. 1641115 - Filed Jan 21, 1927 - Issued Aug 30, 1927 Cab for Motor Vehicles
US Pat. 1858880 - Filed Sep 11, 1928 - Issued May 17, 1932 Windshield Hinge
US Pat. 1888787 - Filed Feb 15, 1930 - Issued Nov 22, 1932 Adjustable Seat Back
US Pat. 1850705 - Filed Mar 5, 1931 - Issued Mar 22, 1932 Vehicle Top
US Pat. D85811 - Filed Mar 5, 1931 - Issued Dec 22, 1931 Truck Cab
US Pat. 2116666 - Filed Jun 11, 1936 - Issued May 10, 1938 Truck Conversion
US Pat. D109126 - Filed Oct 29, 1936 - Issued Apr 5, 1938 Design for a Truck
US Pat. 2165452 - Filed Feb 3, 1937 - Issued Jul 11, 1939 Truck
US Pat. 2172830 - Filed Feb 11, 1938 - Issued Sep 12, 1939 – Rub Rail
US Pat. 2258971 - Filed Feb 21, 1939 - Issued Oct 14, 1941 Truck Body
US Pat. 2258972 - Filed Oct 19, 1940 - Issued Oct 14, 1941 Lift Door
US Pat. 2318751 - Filed Nov 10, 1939 - Issued May 11, 1943 Vehicle Seat

One of the Carlson brothers most successful products were their hardwood service and dump bodies that were produced using hand-forged hardwared and  sheet steel linings. Their listing in the 1920 Power Wagon Reference Book under dunp bodies follows:

“Metropolitan combination contractors' body are made by the Metropolitan Body Co., Bridgeport, Conn. Established 1908. Officers, Pres. William Carlson; treas., Russell D. Cate; sec., Philip Carlson. Capacity 2,500 bodies per year. Manufacture a standard line of truck bodies. Metropolitan combination dump bodies are built of hardwood throughout. Floor, sides, front and tail gate are lined with 14 gage sheet steel. The ironing is all hand forged, and the whole construction is designed to stand up under the most severe usage. Cross members underneath body are of oak, 2% inches by 0 inches. Sub sills are of 4-inch steel I-beam. Bodies are built in two capacities, 5-ton and 2- to 3-ton. View shows 5-ton body with standard 18-inch sides (fig. 59). The smaller bodies are of the same general construction and design. Inside dimensions of the 5-ton body are 10 feet 6 inches long, 6 feet 4 inches wide at front, 0 feet 6 inches wide at rear. Sides and tail gate 18 inches high. Front 30 inches high. Capacity 4 cubic yards. Size of 2-3-ton body, 10 feet long, 5 feet 6 inches wide, sides and tail gate 15 inches high, front 21 inches high. Capacity 2 ½ cubic yards. When used for dumping, the tail gate is automatically released when body is raised. Lowering body locks tail gate again without attention on the part of the driver. Extra extension sides can be had either 6 inches or 12 inches high, adding that much to the capacity of the body. Sides are removable and tail gate can be hinged at bottom for use as a flat platform.”

The firm was listed as exhibitors at the 1920 New York and Chicago Automobile Shows. Their 1920 catalog lists two satellite offices, the first at 104 Brighton Ave. (later 124 Cummington St.), Boston, Mass., and a second in Manhattan at 246 W 65th St. A second Metropolitan New York service depot was later established in Long Island City at 3rd and West Ave.

A large volcanic erruption and subsequent earthquake hit Japan in January of 1914 and the Japanese Government ordered 400 of the firm's dump bodies to help with the island nation's reconstruction, the November 14, 1923 Bridgeport Telegram reporting:


“Metropolitan Body Co. Starts Shipment, for Use in Reconstruction.

“Bridgeport bodies on motor trucks will soon be in use in toiling Japan, where the gigantic program of reconstruction following the earthquake is already underway. The Metropolitan Body company of Grand street, this city, one of the foremost manufacturers of truck and passenger car bodies known to the automobile trade, has already dispatched the first lot of truck bodies on a large order, consigned directly to the government of Japan, William Carlson, president of the company, announced yesterday.

“The order placed with the local concern by the Japanese government is for 400 large truck bodies and the aggregate value will run considerably over $100,010, it is expected, although no official figures were announced. The first shipment of bodies was sent from the local railroad yards on Monday, and there will be a further shipment each week, for 12 weeks. The shipments are consigned to Seattle, Washington where they are assembled on trucks of various American makes, and loaded on steamships for Japan.

“Most of the bodies which the Metropolitan company is making are of the dump type, to be used, probably, in removing debris, and in carrying material for the rebuilding in the earthquake area.”

Metropolitan Body established a Phildelphia, Pennsylvania branch in 1921 at the interesection of Ruan and Leiper Sts., and a Cleveland, Ohio branch in 1927 which was located at 5280 West Twenty-fifth street. The firm's listing in the 1928 Chilton directory follows:

1928 - METROPOLITAN BODY CO., THE (Motor truck cabs, motor truck rack bodies, motor truck dump bodies) Gen. Offices, Bridgeport, Conn. Plants: Bridgeport. Conn. Long Island City, NY Cleveland. O. Philadelphia, Pa.

Those listed below are located at the Bridgeport Plant. Pres., Wm. Carlson; V. Pres., Raymond Hawley; Sec., Julius Carlson; Adv. Mgr., Raymond Hawley; Works Mgr., Philip Carlson; Sales Mgr., Raymond Hawley; Pur. Agt., Julius Carlson; Chief Engr., E.R. Rahm; Branch Office Managers; Cleveland, O., 50th and St. Clair, C.E. Gorey; Long Island City, 3rd and West Ave., J.V. O'Neill; Philadelphia, Pa., Ruan and Leiper, J.P. Ashton.”

A 1931 issue of Public Works included a picture of one of the firm's new insulated truck cabs:

“An Insulated Cab for Motor Trucks - The Metropolitan Body Co., Bridgeport, Conn., has brought out a new type of insulated motor truck cab. The insulated one-piece steel roof eliminates drum and rattle from within the cab and affords protection from heat or cold. Adjustable seat and lazy back insure an instantly comfortable position for all drivers — big or little.”

The April 26, 1932 issue of American Machinist reported on the firm's temporary receivership:

“Metropolitan Body Co., Bridgeport, Conn., has been placed in temporary receivership following a petition of several creditors. Another petition filed by William Carlson, president of the company, also asks for a receiver and an order for dissolution. The company has a plant on Grand St., and also holds a temporary lease on part of Locomobile plant where it has been manufacturing automobile bodies for the Government.”

During its economic troubles the firm’s assets were controlled by the Bridgeport City Trust Co., its main creditor. A number of Philip Carlson’s patents were assigned to the bank during the receivership.

A number of lucrative US government contracts for the Army and Postal Service helped the firm regain profitability, one of which was reported on in a 1934 issue of MoTor:

“The War Department has awarded contracts to the Fargo Motor Corp. for 117 trucks for $156,898, and 51 trucks for $51,784 and to Diamond-T Motor Car Co. for 107 trucks at $108,846. Contracts for 849 more trucks were awarded, at a total price of $1,552,358, to Metropolitan Body Co., Bridgeport, Conn., Springfield Wagon & Trailer Co., Springfield, Mo., Federal Motor Truck Co., Corbitt Co., Henderson, NC…”

Philip Carlson forsaw the adavantages of a dimunitive light-weight and easily maneuverable delivery vehicle and prodeded with plans for the introduction of the all-steel Metro route delivery vehicle. In 1937 the firm installed its new parcel delivery manufacturing operations into the former Saltex Looms plant at 151 Kossuth St., Bridgeport, into which they installed purpose-built assembly jigs, sheet metal processing and welding equipment, and large paint spray booths and baking ovens.

Catalogs were issued for Chevrolet, Dodge, GMC and Ford chassis and the International Harvester  Corporation thought so highly of the Metropolitan line, that it was included in their official factory brochures and publications.  A case in point being a multipage article on the Metro Line that was published in July 1939 issue of 'The International Trail'.

By that time the firm dominated the multi-stop walk-through van business in the eastern United States, a fact that did not escape the notice of International Harvester. However, I-H's plans for a merger were placed on hold due to both firm's involvement in the build-up to the Second World War.

During World War II Metropolitan Body's production facilities were converted to defense needs, producing radar cabinets, bomb blast shields and gun turrets. The war effort earned for the Metropolitan Body company two Army Navy "E" Awards.

The “E” award was the Army-Navy Award for Excellence in War Production and was normally awarded when a firm completed a large order for the US War effort or filled an order in a short period of time.

At the ceremony, the employees would be given an enameled pin mounted on a card certifying their contribution to the war effort with a message from the president.  The employer would be presented with an “E’ flag and banner and outstanding employees would be presented with a special certificate.

The November 26, 1947 Bridgeport Telegram:

“Brothers Acquire Saltex property property 10 Dec, 31.

“The Carlson brothers are familiar with the property, having used part of it for Metropolitan Body company operations in recent years. During World War II they built gun turrets and shields for the Navy and their organization won two Army and Navy "E" awards.

“The organization now makes its own patented "Metro" delivery truck bodies exclusively for the International Harvester' company.

“The 12-acre property acquired is located near the geographical center of the city, has 1,235 feet of frontage on Kossuth street, from Burroughs street south, and a depth of 550 feet, extending to the harbor, with wharfage frontage and a large power plant with double boiler installation.

“There are six building sections on the property, all of brick construction and connected to provide an overall floor space of approximately 500,000 square feet, with land available In the rear for future building.”

The purchase of the Saltex plant paved the way for the firm's acquisition by International Harvester, which was announced in the January 11, 1948 issue of the Bridgeport Sunday Post (the press release from which the following was transcribed was published in the January 1948 issue of 'The Harvester World'):

“Harvester Firm Purchases Metropolitan Body Co. Here

“International Plans to Expand Production in Kossuth Street Plant

“Purchase of the principal stock ownership of the Metropolitan Body Company, 151 Kossuth Street, by the International Harvester Company was announced yesterday, In a joint statement by W.C. Schumacher, general manager of Harvester’s motor truck division and Philip and William Carlson, president and vice-president, respectively, of the body company.

“Arrangements are already under way for the transfer of ownership.

“Metropolitan Body Company has supplied International Harvester Company with special type bodies for its motor trucks for many years. Truck chassis are sent to the Bridgeport plant from Harvester’s motor truck assembly plant at Springfield, Ohio. The Metropolitan bodies are mounted on the trucks here, and the completed trucks are then marketed through International Harvester’s motor truck sales outlets throughout the United States and abroad.

“Still Higher Output

“Sharply increased demands for this particular type of delivery vehicle created a need for an increased supply of bodies from the Metropolitan Body Company, Philip and William Carlson did not desire to undertake the responsibilities of a program of production expansion, due to the fact that neither wished to remain in the business definitely and active managerial capacity.

“The suggestion was made by the Carlsons, therefore, that International Harvester purchased and take control of the business. Metropolitan Body Company will continue to operate the business as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the International Harvester Company.

“Gen. Levin H. Campbell, jr., executive vice president of International Harvester Company, will be chairman of the board and Mr. Schumacher will be the new president of the Metropolitan Body Company.

“Various Harvester officials and executives will serve as directors and officers of Metropolitan Body.

“The entire present personnel of Metropolitan Body will be retained and the plant will continued to be operated just as it has been in the past. Only two International Harvester men will become part of the plant operating group now. G.S Houghton as manager and J.B. Preston as auditor.

“Leased Space

“Metropolitan Body has been leasing manufacturing space in the Saltex Looms property on Kossuth street for many years. The Carlson brothers, however, as recently announced, purchased the Saltex Looms property in which the body manufacturing is carried on, and Metropolitan Body Company will have a five-year lease with them for the rental of space for the continuance of the body manufacture. About 250,000 square feet of space is now used by the Metropolitan Body operation.

“It is planned to increase the output of the plant as rapidly as the supply of materials and other conditions permit, first through increasing production within the area already being used. When maximum production is obtained from that space, it is planned to utilize additional space in the premises to provide further increased production.

“About 425 men and women are now employed in the plant and while that total may be enlarged iun the future, Schumacher stated that he would not now predict how much greater future employment would be.

“The Metropolitan Body Company had its origins in Bridgeport and has grown into one of the substantial truck body companies of the country. The Carlson brothers founded the business and have been active in its development since.

“The type of body developed by the company has proved attractive in a large section of motor truck users where maximum body capacity in relation to the size of the truck is required. It is especially popular for delivery service in the larger cities and towns where truck parking problems are acute.

“‘International Harvester is very pleased to become the principal stockholder of the Metropolitan Body Company, built up over the years by Philip and William Carlson.’ Mr. Schumacher said yesterday.

“‘Harvester has had very pleasant relations with the company for many years, and was the principal user of its products. Harvester would have been quite satisfied to have gone on under the former arrangement, provided more bodies cold have been supplied us, and under other conditions I am certain that would have been done.

“Employees Should Benefit

“‘But since, both Philip and William Carlson were desirous of retiring from active business and did not wish to undertake  the responsibilities of an expansion of their operation, we feel confident the best solution was the initiation by the Carlsons of arrangements for Harvester to assume stock control of the company. Thus the employees of the plant, our motor truck customers, the community of Bridgeport, the Carlsons and Harvester should benefit.

"We look forward to the continuance of pleasant associations with the employees of the plant, our industrial neighbors in Bridgeport and the people of Bridgeport. We hope to operate a busy, productive plant.

"We are glad that Philip and William Carlson will remain in an advisory capacity for a time.’

“New General Manager

“George B. Houghton, new general manager of the Metropolitan Body Company, which has been acquired by International Harvester Company, arrived in Bridgeport from Chicago on Dec. 27, and has purchased a house nearing completion on Chickadee Lane, Stratford.

“Mr. Houghton is no stranger to New England, having studied engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As an International Harvester executive, he has been familiar with the development of Metro double -capacity bodies from their inception in 1935 and has been a frequent visitor to the Metropolitan plant on Kossuth Street. He has known many of the employees for years and during the last two weeks has spent most of his time getting acquainted with all of the 425 men and women who comprise the Metropolitan organization.

“Mr. Houghton said yesterday International Harvester Company and Metropolitan Body Company have had many things in common during their long business relationship including particularly the policy of seeking future leaders from their own ranks. And that policy will continue.

“Mr. Houghton joined International Harvester in 1927 as a stock clerk. He is 42.”

From that point on the firm's operations and product development were all controlled by International Harvester who announced Metro's new 12 foot 1-ton van at Metropolitan Body Co.'s 40th Anniversary luncheon.

Numerous models were introduced during the early 1950s including the 'Metro Coach' school bus as well as a line of walk-in vans built using standard International ligh truck sheet-metal, which were marketed under the Metroette line.

A line of insulated bodies debuted in 1954 that were optionally available with an integral refrigeration unit mounted just behind the driver.

The Metro Lite composite Fiberglas, aluminum and magnesium body was introduced in 1957, it's 1200 pounds making it the lightest route delivery body available at the time.

It was closely followed by 1959's Metro Mite which featured a unitized chassis initially powered by an Austin 4-cylinder engine. The MEtro Mite was eventaully offered with a choice of wheelbases, roof heights, entrances and powerplants.

A totaly redesigned Metro Van appeared in 1964, which was made available with a choice of aluminum or steel coachwork. The new offerings were never as popular as the firm's distinctive 1950s vans and a decreasing market combined with problems dealing with Bridgeport's United Auto Workers union prompted International Harvester to pull the plug on its Connecticut operations in May of 1968, putting 750 employees out of work.

In September of 1968 International Harvester sold the firm's 151 Kossuth Street plant to the Fermont div. of the Dynamics Corporation of America, who intended on using it to manufacture their own line of delivery trucks.

William Carlson's obituary was published in the August 24, 1970 issue of the Bridgeport Telegram:

“William Carlson Dies at 84; Civic Leader, Philanthropist

“William Carlson, 84, president of the Carlson Foundation and one of the city's foremost civic leaders, businessmen and philanthropists died yesterday in his home at 20 Crown Street.

“Co-Founder of Metro

“A native of Novomish, Poland, an area which at times was also part of Russia, Mr. Carlson came to the United States in 1907 and moved to Bridgeport in 1908.

“Mr. Carlson and his brother Philip, now a resident of Palm Springs, Calif., founded the Metropolitan Carriage company at Main street and Columbus place in 1909. The firm moved to 430 Grand street in 1912 and to the Kossuth street location in 1937.

“With the change in the nation's mode of transportation from the horse-drawn carriage to the motor vehicle, the firm changed its emphasis to building bodies for the vehicles and changed its name to the Metropolitan Body company in 1912. Its introduction of the Metro body, which extended the truck body over the vehicle's engine, revolutionized delivery service by enlarging the carrying space and capacity and permitting greater ease in loading and unloading.

“During World War II the production facilities at Metro were converted to defense needs, producing radar cabinets, bomb blast shields and gun turrets. The war effort earned for the Metropolitan Body company two Army Navy "E" Awards for quality of workmanship.

“The name and inventory of the Metropolitan Body company was sold to International Harvester company in 1948 and the property in 1959. The Carlson Foundation was established in 1948 as was the Carlson Bros. corporation, a business venture in which William and Philip continued to be active.

“Helped Start Festival

“Long active in the civic affairs of the city, Mr. Carlson helped establish the Barnum Festival. He served as its ringmaster in 1952 and as Festival finance chairman for two years. He was chairman of the Connecticut Symphony Orchestra finance committee and its treasurer for several years.

“He was a trustee of the Temple B'nai Israel, Park avenue, for several years, served as member of the board of governors and chairman of the finance committee of the Jewish Community Center, held membership in the Bridgeport Area Chamber of Commerce and the Bridgeport Manufacturers Association, and was active in fund appeals for the Community Chest, United Fund and Red Cross.

“From 1954 to 1965, Mr. Carlson was a member of the Government Economy committee of the National Association of Manufacturers. The Bridgeport Area Chamber of Commerce selected him among the members of the first group to be honored by the Chamber as a ‘senior builder’ of Bridgeport.

“Served on Park Commission

“He served as a member of the Bridgeport Park commission, the first recipient of the International Institute's ‘Immigrant of the Year’ award, and was honored by the Circus Saints and Sinners society.

“Mr. Carlson was a trustee of the University of Bridgeport and served as a member of its development and buildings and grounds committees.

“The Carlson Foundation made possible the construction of the Carlson Library at the University of Bridgeport in 1954, an addition in 1961 and has contributed to the planned construction of a Learning Resources Center which will supplement the facilities of the library.

“Contributions from the Carlson Foundation have made possible the Carlson Memorial chapel at Bridgeport hospital, the Carlson Science library at Park City Hospital, the Carlson Reading room at the Jewish Community Center, the entrance mall lobby at the Museum of Art, Science and Industry, and the Carlson Lecture hall in the College of Engineering building at UB.

“The Carlson Foundation has provided scholarship assistance to several Connecticut colleges including the University of Bridgeport and Fairfield University.

“The foundation also established the annual Carlson Art and Music Series at UB and has sponsored exhibits at Fairfield University. It has contributed to numerous other charitable and educational activities. William and Philip sponsored the first Brandeis University campaign in Fairfield County.

“Mr. Carlson is survived by his wife, the former Frances Faust of Bridgeport; two brothers, Philip, of Palm Springs, Calif., and Julius, of Bridgeport; two daughters, Mrs. Ruth Carlson Horn of Bridgeport and Mrs. Beatrice Carlson Fosman, of South Orange, N.J.; three grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

“Services Tuesday

“Services will take place Tuesday at 2 p.m. in the Park Avenue Temp l e, 2710 Park avenue. Rabbi Arnold I. Sher will officiate. Burial will take place in B'nai Israel Cemetery, in Fairfield.

“The Carlson family has requested that memorial contributions be made to the favorite charity of respective individuals.”

His brother Philip's obituary appeared in the July 13, 1971 issue of the Bridgeport Telegram:

“Philip Carlson Dies; Ex-Industrialist; 87

“Philip Carlson, a former Bridgeport area industrialist and philanthropist and former president of the Metropolitan Body company of Bridgeport, died Sunday in his home in Palm Springs, Calif. He was in his 88th year.

“Built First Auto Truck Body

“Born in Russia in 1884, Mr. Carlson came to Bridgeport in 1906 and started a carriage body repair and building shop at Main and Grand Streets with his late brother William.

“In 1909 he had designed and built the first automobile truck body which was later standardized and caught the attention of the automotive industry. It later became the basis of Metro trucks.

“The inventor and holder of many patents, Mr. Carlson also designed buses, ambulances, truck cabs, as well as revolutionizing the truck industry with the ‘Double Payload’, ‘Magic Door’ and ‘Body Over Chassis Conversion.’

“During the Second World War, the Metropolitan Body Company, under the direction of Mr. Carlson, turned all of its efforts to war production of gun mounts for which it earned the Navy ‘E’ Award.

“In January of 1948, the Carlson brothers sold the Metropolitan Body company to the International Harvester Company, with Philip remaining as production consultant until his retirement several years ago.

“Many Area Benefactions

“Mr. Carlson and his later brother established the Carlson Foundation with generous contributions being made to the University of Bridgeport and including its Carlson Library, Carlson Hall in the College of Engineering, the Carlson Art Gallery in the Arts-Humanities Cent e r, the Carlson Art & Music Series and the Carlson Scholarships.

“Other institutions which having benefitted from the generosity of the Carlson foundation are the reading room at the Bridgeport Jewish Community Center; the Memorial Chapel at Bridgeport Hospital; the Science Library at Park City Hospital; and the Fairfield University Library and scholarships.

“Also, the lobby of the Museum of Arts, Science and Industry; the Bridgeport Area Foundation; the Jewish Home for the Elderly now under construction; Boys Clubs facilities in Bridgeport and Palm Springs; the Palm Springs Desert Hospital, Eisenhower Hospital; Palm Springs Museum; Angel View Crippled Children's organization; Cancer Society of Riverside Calif., and the Palm Springs Mental Health Association.

“Mr. Carlson was a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers, the Masonic Order Temple Lodge 127, AF and AM, Park Avenue; Palm Springs Temple Isaiah, the Tennis club and the Organizational chairman of Fairfield County Friends of Brandies University.

“Survivors are his wife, Mrs. Rose Landes Carlson; a son Leonard Philip Carlson of Los Angeles; a daughter, Mrs. Simon Jackel of Westport; a brother Julius Carlson of Bridgeport; four grandchildren, several nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews.”

Metropolitan Body's 151 Kossuth Street plant was eventually demolished to make way for the Bridgeport Jai Alai complex, which opened in 1976. The complex was converted over to a dog track in 1995, and remains in operation as the Shoreline Star Greyhound Park which can be seen from the Soutbound lanes of I-95.

International Harvester's 3400 Fairfield Ave. facility in Black Rock was eventually sold off and is currently the home of Hemingway Custom Cabinetry, a manufacturer of custom-built cabinets and millwork.

© 2012 Mark Theobald -


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

Larkin, Roosevelt & Larkin - Who's who in transportation and communication, pub. 1942

George Curtis Waldo - History of Bridgeport and vicinity, Volume 2, pub 1917

Lennie Grimaldi - Only in Bridgeport: an illustrated history of the Park City, pub. 1986

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