Springfield Coach Works was one of the
Massachusetts automobile body builders that supplied production bodies
number of regional manufacturers, Hendee Mfg. Co., Rauch & Lang,
of America, and Stevens-Duryea among them. A 1922 recapitalization
claimed the firm had: “large production contracts from the Mercer
Company, the du Pont Motors Company and for Cadillac, Pierce-Arrow,
and other cars.”
A satellite facility located in Chicopee Falls, a
of Springfield, supplied production bodies to Stevens-Duryea, taxicab
Rauch & Lang and side cars to the Hendee Mfg. Co., better known as
manufacturer of Indian bicycles and motocycles.
Springfield Coach Works’ direct predecessor,
Harness Co. was founded by Alphonse U. Premont, a talented Canadian
who emigrated to the United States in 1895.
Alphonse Ulrie Premont was born in
Waterloo, Shefford County, Quebec , Canada on June 14, 1882 to
(b.1843–d.1913) and Philomène (Boucher - b.1845–d.1890) Premont.
addition to his parents, the Premont family included the following
Auguste (b.1864–d.1865); Lea Vitaline
Napolion (b.1868–d.1952); Anonyme (b.1870–d.1870); Arthur Firmin
Joseph Albani (b.1873–d.1945); Cora (b.1875–d.1951); Georges Zoel
Oscar Achille (b.1879–d.1945); Alphonse Ulrie (b.1882–d.1960) and
Xavier Albert (b.1884–d.1885) Premont. After
Joseph Alfred Premont’s wife Philomène
passed away (in 1890) he remarried Rosalie Pouline on May 3, 1897,
bride being the widow of his godfather.
Four of the Premont children emigrated to
Massachusetts to seek employment in the regions booming manufacturing
their names being Napolion (b.1868–d.1952); Arthur Firmin (b. Feb. 17,
Jan. 29, 1956); Georges Zoel (b.1877–d.1945); Oscar Achille (b. Jul. 8,
Alphonse Ulrie (b.1882–d.1960). Only Joseph Albani Premont (b. Jun. 25,
Aug. 24, 1945 in Quebec) remained in Canada with his parents.
Shortly after his immigration Alphonse U.
in Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts finding employment as a machine tool
with the J. Stevens Arms & Tool Company and during the next few
of brothers - Georges Zoel and Napolion
(Premont) joined him at the firm.
(*Although various census and directories
list a different
middle initial for Alphonse; Alphonse U. Premont; Alphonse W. Premont;
Alphonse N. Premont, they all refer to the same individual –all share
birth year, occupation and business address.)
The fourth brother, Joseph Oscar Premont*
(b. Jul. 8, 1879) also
emigrated to Chicopee, Massachusetts, and although he may have worked
at the J.
Stevens Arms & Tool Company for a short period, by 1900 he had
the J.O. Premont Harness Co. at 75 Market St in Chicopee Falls.
(*Although Canadian birth records list him
as Oscar Achille
Premont, successive US Census and city directories list him as Joseph
Premont, J. Oscar Premont, and Joseph O. Premont. Oscar
Achille Premont and Joseph Oscar Premont
refer to the same individual – they share the same birth date, parents,
and business addresses, so I’ll use his American moniker Joseph Oscar
as that’s what he preferred.)
The Premonts were all listed
in the 1901 Springfield City Directory
Premont, Alphonse U.; J.S.A. & T Co., bds.
Broadway, Chicopee Falls
Premont, George P.; emp. J.S.A. & T Co., h.
64 Montgomery, Chicopee Falls
Premont, Napoleon; emp. J.S.A. & T Co., h. 65
Montgomery, Chicopee Falls
Premont, J. Oscar: harnessmaker,75 Market,
(J.S.A. & T Co. = J. Stevens Arms &
Chicopee Falls, Mass.)
The formation of the Springfield Harness Co.
in the July 1907 issue of National Harness Review:
“Recently, in Springfield, Mass.,
J. O. Premont
& Co. bought John Chisholm’s harness shop and will continue the
at 145 Lyman street, under the name of the Springfield Harness
The Premont’s listing in the 1908
Premont, Alphonse U; (Spfd. Harness Co.) 196
Premont, Arthur F.; harnessmakr, h 28
Premont, Joseph O.; (Spfd. Harness Co.) 196
Chestnut, h. 10
1910-1915 Springfield city directories list
the J. O.
Premont Harness Co. at 203 Chestnut St., Springfield, the 1915
listing auto tops and upholstering for the first time, however
had commenced in 1910 according to the July 1910 issue of the National
“The Springfield Harness
Mass., has added to its floor space, to provide room for its
automobile top making department.“
The firm’s new automobile windshield was
mentioned in the March,
1911 issue of Carriage Monthly:
“A New Wind Shield of Merit
“This top shield, which is made of Pantasote
is attached at the base to the front part of the dash with fasteners,
inclined rearwardly and supported at the top by a yoke shaped frame,
hinged at the base over a plunger lock which permits windshield being
forward and locked in an upright position when getting in or out of car.
“The yoke shaped frame, which is made of a
brass tube, is demountable, corners being threaded and screwed into the
tube, so that it is possible to convert windshield into a regular storm
at a short notice. The top shield, having no support in the center, is
deflected by the pressure of the wind, and thereby automatically
the condition of speed of the car.
“The shield being supported on a loose frame
subjected to the vibration of the car, such as would be experienced
rigid frame. It is adjustable, so that it can be raised or lowered to
line of vision of the driver. The shield can be removed from the car in
instant, through the loosening of two tension nuts only.
“It is the purpose of the manufacturers,
Harness Co., Springfield, Mass., to have one
each city and town, and they will sell the frame only, so that makers
their own windshields successfully. Frames complete will be made
requiring but very little alteration to be fitted to any make of car, a
that makes this windshield particularly desirable for commercial
“The Springfield Harness Co. has
on its yoke frame, and the inquiries already received from prominent
throughout the country speak volumes for the success of this new
“All correspondence relating to this
invention should be
addressed to the Springfield
Harness Co., Springfield, Mass.”
(*Pantasote was a synthetic leather material
the Pantasote Co. of New York. Fiberloid was an early molded plastic
manufactured by the Fiberloid Corporation, of Indian Orchard,
During the teens Alphonse U. Premont
brother’s harness business and relocated it a few blocks away to 55
Alphonse served as president and treasurer, and his brother Georges Z.,
Their brother, Joseph Oscar Premont,
organized a seemingly
competing firm, the Springfield United Top Co., at 359 Chestnut St.,
Springfield, which was located down the street from his original shop
2 blocks away from his brothers’ business.
The 1918 Springfield Business Directory
formation of a third related business, the Springfield Coach Works,
display ad is pictured to the right:
“Springfield Coach Works, Springfield
Harness Co. props.
Auto tops, motor bodies and upholstering. 55-69 Dwight-see p. 36.
Springfield Harness Co., A.U. Premont,
treas.; David Duquette, Chicopee Falls, v-pres.; John E. Costigan, sec.
Automobile tops, motor bodies, paint, leather and upholstery works and
55-69 Dwight-see p. 36.”
The 1920 Springfield/Chicopee directory
Premonts all of which worked for one or another of the family’s
“Premont, Alphonse U.; pres. and treas.
Spfd. Harness Co.,
55 Dwight, and treas. Spfd. Coach Works (439) res. 31 Elm St.
Premont, Arthur P.; emp. Spfd Harness Co.,
res. 35 Wilcox
Premont, George P.; v-pres. Spfd Harness
Co., 55 Dwight, h.
Premont, J. Oscar: mgr. Spfd United Top
Co., 359 Chestnut,
h. at Chicopee
Premont, Joseph A.; h. 360 Chestnut
Premont, Laura; clk. 392 Main, res 35 Wilcox
1920 also marked a significant
recapitalization of the
Springfield Coach Works, which was spearheaded new investors, the State
reports that Articles of Organization were filed on Sept 17, 1919; and
was incorporated on October 1, 1919 with $450,000 of authorized capital
by A.U. Premont, M.B. Foster and William S. Fish.
The December, 1919 issue of Steam reported:
“The Springfield Coach Works, 59 Dwight
Mass., will alter present factory and build a boiler house on North
Two boilers will be installed in same. Work will be done by day labor,
estimated costs $25,000.”
Steam got a few facts wrong, they
incorrectly stated the
firm’s address - 59 Dwight St. is in Springfield – however, they had
a plant on Center St. in Chicopee Falls near the Hendee Mfg. Co. A
display ad seen
right lists both addresses.
The May 20, 1920 issue of The Automobile
addition of another officer:
“L. J. Harley, Jr., president of the Harley
Springfield, Mass., has resigned to become president of
Leon J. Harley Jr. (b. Jun. 1879) was the
son of Flora A. and
Leon J. Harley (b. Apr.1852), the Vermont-born proprietors of the
a Springfield-based manufacturer of cast and drop-forged bronze, iron
specialties. Harley Sr., a long-time employee of Smith & Wesson,
who left in
the early 1890s to become superintendent of the Elektron Co., a
of electric elevators. The officers of the company included; W. D.
president, E. H. Cutler, treasurer, L. J.
and L. J. Harley, Jr., assistant treasurer.
Leon J. Harley, Jr. was a director of
the Union Trust
Company of Springfield and served on the boards of a number of local
of which was the Hendee Mfg. Co., the manufacturer of Indiana bicycles
motorcycles. In 1912 the Harleys formed their own small business, the
11, 1912 issue of the Horseless Age reporting:
“Harley Co., Springfield, Mass.—Capital
stock, $50,000; to
conduct a garage business. Incorporators: Leon J. Harley, Leon J.
and Thomas B. Purves, Jr.”
If the firm produced any automotive-related
items I couldn’t
find them, however they did make numerous small cast-iron and wood
specialties including paperweights, casket handles, and toys. Their toy
successful enough to have been spun off to the C.E. Bradley Corp. of
Brattleboro, Vermont in 1918.
A prospectus for Springfield Coach Works’
plan was published in the June 19, 1920 issue of US Investor:
“The Springfield Coach Works, a
Corporation, Offers for Sale $100,000 Sinking Fund Cumulative Preferred
to yield 8% Par Value $100 Available at 110 and accrued dividends
“TAX FREE in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New
Vermont. FREE of Normal FEDERAL income tax. 1 share Common with every 4
“A GOING CONCERN which manufactures
BODIES and maintains a special department for the manufacture of CUSTOM
The company has large production CONTRACTS from the MERCER Motors
DU PONT Motors Company and for CADILLAC, PIERCE-ARROW, PACKARD,
other cars. It has $625,000 worth of contracts on hand, While
offered total $2,500,000.
“The PLANT at Brightwood has railroad
frontage and is
equipped to take care of an enormous volume of orders.
Preferred Stock 8% . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . .
. . . $200,000
Common Stock . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . .
. . . $250,000
NET ASSETS per share of Preferred will equal
“PREFERENCES: Dividends are cumulative,
payable quarterly. Preferred both as to Assets and Dividends. Callable
and dividend on any dividend date.
“The matters of PRIORITIES, PROTECTION OF
ASSETS and payment
of the SINKING FUND have all been provided for according to the sane
principles of the most conservative financing.
“Automobile manufacturers are finding it
to get bodies made as fast as they require them. In view of
this pressing demand and by reason of the exceptional
the Springfield Coach Works possesses—both in mechanical equipment
highly skilled personnel—the future of this company may be safely
“President: L. J. Harley, Jr.;
Vice—President: L. J. Harley;
Treasurer: A. U. Premont; Clerk: Edwin Krause
George M. Hendee, Capitalist and Director
Union Trust Co.
L. J. Harley, Jr., Director: Harley Co.,
Union Trust Co. and
Hendee Mfg. Co.
E. C. Perkins, President, Dunker-Perkins
Company A. U.
Premont, Treasurer Company
Frank J. Weschler, Vice-President the Hendee
L. J. Harley, Director: Harley Co.
Edwin Krause, Vice-President, the Hendee Co.
“This information has been obtained from
sources we believe
to be accurate, and though we do not
guarantee them, they
are the data upon which we ourselves have acted in our valuation of the
“We recommend this offering as a
secured and conservative investment.
Write for Descriptive Folder, S. C. W.—101 Gibson & Company, Inc.
94 State Street,
The recapitalization coincided with the
production of the
Springfield Silver Ghost in Rolls-Royce of America’s East Springfield,
Massachusetts plant, and subsequent news articles reveal that
Works supplied some production bodies to the automaker.
The 10 sub-contractors who supplied bodies
Rolls-Royce Custom Coach Work program included Biddle and Smart,
Holbrook, Merrimac, New Haven Carriage Co., Smith-Springfield,
Coach Works and Willoughby. Much speculation has been focused on the
builder, who mostly likely was the Springfield Body Corp. of
Massachusetts (not affiliated with Smith-Springfield), although the
Body Co. of Amesbury, Massachusetts is another possibility.
The Men of Industry column in the January 5,
1922 issue of The
Automobile briefly mentions the firm in a review of Springfield’s auto
“Springfield Body Works Planning for
“SPRINGFIELD, MASS., Jan. 3-Production
bodies has entered upon a period of expansion in this district.
“The Auto Metal Body Corp., building
Hupmobile bodies, plans
an early enlargement of its plant.
“The All-Metals Co. is negotiating for a
building in which
to engage in the systematic manufacture of bodies.
“Springfield Coach Works has bought the
buildings on which its factory is located, and in the near future will
structure specially adapted to its needs.
“Smith-Springfield Body Corp. is being
operated at its
full capacity of 250 employees. This concern is getting an increased
orders for bodies for foreign cars, a trade lately revived after being
interrupted by the war.”
The May 4, 1922 issue of The Automobile
includes a brief
mention of the firm producing bodies for Rolls-Royce of America Inc.:
“Rolls-Royce Takes on More Men
“SPRINGFIELD, MASS., May 1— Orders are
at such a gratifying rate at the Rolls-Royce works that it is planned
another addition of 200 men to the plant force May 15, bringing the
practically normal production. The feature of the selling situation is
continued large demand for closed cars.
“Springfield Coach Works has doubled
its force employed
in making automobile bodies, and is turning out many custom bodies for
Rolls-Royce and other makes. With its associate concern, the
Harness Works, it is rushing production of Hendee sidecars.
“The Springfield Coach Works and
company, the Springfield Harness Works, also reports an increasing
orders for automobile bodies.”
Some of the bodies being produced by
Springfield Coach Works
plant were furnished to Rauch & Lang Inc., a firm organized on Jan
6, 1920 to
take the assets of the electric automobile department of the Baker,
Lang Co. of Cleveland, Ohio. Its operations were relocated to Chicopee
where the firm manufactured electric taxicabs in a portion of the J.
Arms & Tool Company. Rauch & Lang Inc.’s officers
included: H. W.
Steiner, Pres.; F. H. T. Potter, Treas.; N. H. Richards, Sec., its
W. Steiner, Chrm. of Board, Springfield, Mass.; P. A. Frank,
Mass.; R. L. Jones, Boston, Mass. and F. H. T. Potter, Chicago,
The taxicab field exploded during the early
1920s, but the
field was quickly saturated and by 1924 many taxicab manufacturers were
bankruptcy, Rauch & Lang Inc., among them. The April 17, 1924 issue
“Rauch & Lang Plans Greater Production
“Difficulties That Arose from Changing to
Being Smoothed Out.
“Chicopee Falls, Mass., April 15 — H. W.
and general manager of Rauch & Lang, Inc., whose plant has
offered for sale by the city of Chicopee for taxes, said
an extension of time has been granted until May 1, and that
would be effected by which the company’s production of gasoline and
taxicabs would go forward uninterruptedly.
“The schedule, he says, calls for successive
production between now and September to fill orders already in
Twenty gasoline cabs a month are now being made, he said, which
be raised to fifty. Production of electric cabs is said to be
about six a
month. Large outlays and various difficulties incidental to entering
taxicab field cramped the concern temporarily, he states, but most
difficulties have been smoothed out, and orders and prospects warrant
optimistic view of the future.
“A portion of the Rauch & Lang plant was
months ago to Stevens-Duryea Motors Inc., and the two concerns are
their production on independently under the same roof. The old
plant is in use for storage. At the recent annual meeting of Rauch
Inc., Mr. Steiner was chosen president and Frank H. Potter of Chicago,
“Relative to the Springfield Coach Works,
whose plant is
also up for sale for taxes, the president, A.
U. Premont, declares
that steps had been taken to reorganize the company, meet the
obtain additional working capital. The company has been devoting a
of its production to bodies for the Rauch & Lang taxicabs.”
Although Rauch & Lang Inc. remained in
business into the
1930s, Springfield Coach Works’ Chicopee plant was abandoned in 1925
due to its
tax situation and its main Springfield operation reorganized as
Upholstering and Metal Works, the 1926 Springfield City Directory
reveals that Alphonse
U. Premont , and his wife Esther were in charge of the new firm:
Premont, Alphonse U.; (Esther M.)
and Metal Works, 55 Dwight. r. 87 Ingersoll Grove
Premont, Esther M., Mrs.; Springfield
Upholstering and Metal
Works, 55 Dwight. r. 87 Ingersoll Grove
Premont, George; r.
87 Ingersoll Grove
Premont, Hugh D.; Springfield Upholstering
and Metal Works,
55 Dwight. r. 87 Ingersoll Grove
Premont, J. Oscar; (Mary E.) h. 419 Franklin
The Hendee Manufacturing Company was
the Indian Motocycle Manufacturing Company in 1928.
In the early 1930s Springfield Upholstering
and Metal Works
was reorganized as Springfield Upholstering and Awning Co., the 1936
City Directory lists the Premonts as follows:
Premont, Alphonse U.; Springfield Upholstering
and Awning Co., 33 Dwight.
Premont, George P.; Springfield Upholstering and
Awning Co., 33 Dwight.
Premont, Hugh D.; Springfield Upholstering and
Awning Co., 33 Dwight.
Premont, J. Oscar: emp. 33 Dwight
Springfield Coach Works' Springfield plant
was eventually raised
to make way for the construction of the Springfield Civic Center in
The facility was extensively remodeled in 2006 and re-christened the
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