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Springfield Coach Works
Springfield Harness Co., 1906-1919; Springfield Coach Works, 1918-1925; Springfield, Massachusetts; 1919-1925; Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts.
Associated Builders
Rauch & Lang Inc., Rolls-Royce of America Inc.

Springfield Coach Works was one of the numerous Springfield, Massachusetts automobile body builders that supplied production bodies to a number of regional manufacturers, Hendee Mfg. Co., Rauch & Lang, Rolls-Royce of America, and Stevens-Duryea among them. A 1922 recapitalization prospectus claimed the firm had: “large production contracts from the Mercer Motors Company, the du Pont Motors Company and for Cadillac, Pierce-Arrow, Packard, Franklin and other cars.”

A satellite facility located in Chicopee Falls, a northern suburb of Springfield, supplied production bodies to Stevens-Duryea, taxicab bodies to Rauch & Lang and side cars to the Hendee Mfg. Co., better known as the manufacturer of Indian bicycles and motocycles.

Springfield Coach Works’ direct predecessor, the Springfield Harness Co. was founded by Alphonse U. Premont, a talented Canadian machinist who emigrated to the United States in 1895.

Alphonse Ulrie Premont was born in St-Bernardin Parish, Waterloo, Shefford County, Quebec , Canada on June 14, 1882 to Joseph Alfred (b.1843–d.1913) and Philomène (Boucher - b.1845–d.1890) Premont. In addition to his parents, the Premont family included the following children: Frederic Auguste (b.1864–d.1865); Lea Vitaline (b.1866–d.1867); Napolion (b.1868–d.1952); Anonyme (b.1870–d.1870); Arthur Firmin (b.1871–d.1956); Joseph Albani (b.1873–d.1945); Cora (b.1875–d.1951); Georges Zoel (b.1877–d.1945); Oscar Achille (b.1879–d.1945); Alphonse Ulrie (b.1882–d.1960) and Francois 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, his bride being the widow of his godfather.

Four of the Premont children emigrated to Central Massachusetts to seek employment in the regions booming manufacturing business, their names being Napolion (b.1868–d.1952); Arthur Firmin (b. Feb. 17, 1871–d. Jan. 29, 1956); Georges Zoel (b.1877–d.1945); Oscar Achille (b. Jul. 8, 1879–d.1945); Alphonse Ulrie (b.1882–d.1960). Only Joseph Albani Premont (b. Jun. 25, 1873–d. Aug. 24, 1945 in Quebec) remained in Canada with his parents.

Shortly after his immigration Alphonse U. Premont *settled in Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts finding employment as a machine tool foreman with the J. Stevens Arms & Tool Company and during the next few years two 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; and Alphonse N. Premont, they all refer to the same individual –all share the same 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 established 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 Oscar 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, occupation and business addresses, so I’ll use his American moniker Joseph Oscar Premont, as that’s what he preferred.)

The Premonts were all listed in the 1901 Springfield City Directory as follows:

Premont, Alphonse U.; J.S.A. & T Co., bds. 11 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,, Chicopee Falls
(J.S.A. & T Co. = J. Stevens Arms & Tool Company, Chicopee Falls, Mass.)

The formation of the Springfield Harness Co. was announced 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 business at 145 Lyman street, under the name of the Springfield Harness Shop.“

The Premont’s listing in the 1908 Springfield/Chicopee City Directory follows:

Premont, Alphonse U; (Spfd. Harness Co.) 196 Chestnut, res. Chicopee Falls
Premont, Arthur F.; harnessmakr, h 28 Randall Av.
Premont, Joseph O.; (Spfd. Harness Co.) 196 Chestnut, h. 10 Wilbraham av.

1910-1915 Springfield city directories list the J. O. Premont Harness Co. at 203 Chestnut St., Springfield, the 1915 directory listing auto tops and upholstering for the first time, however automobile work had commenced in 1910 according to the July 1910 issue of the National Harness Review:

“The Springfield Harness Company, Springfield, 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 and Fiberloid*, is attached at the base to the front part of the dash with fasteners, and is inclined rearwardly and supported at the top by a yoke shaped frame, which is hinged at the base over a plunger lock which permits windshield being pushed forward and locked in an upright position when getting in or out of car.

“The yoke shaped frame, which is made of a highly polished brass tube, is demountable, corners being threaded and screwed into the brass tube, so that it is possible to convert windshield into a regular storm front at a short notice. The top shield, having no support in the center, is deflected by the pressure of the wind, and thereby automatically adjusted to the condition of speed of the car.

“The shield being supported on a loose frame is not subjected to the vibration of the car, such as would be experienced with the rigid frame. It is adjustable, so that it can be raised or lowered to meet the line of vision of the driver. The shield can be removed from the car in an instant, through the loosening of two tension nuts only.

“It is the purpose of the manufacturers, the Springfield Harness Co., Springfield, Mass., to have one representative in each city and town, and they will sell the frame only, so that makers can make their own windshields successfully. Frames complete will be made standard, requiring but very little alteration to be fitted to any make of car, a feature that makes this windshield particularly desirable for commercial purposes.

“The Springfield Harness Co. has patents pending on its yoke frame, and the inquiries already received from prominent top makers throughout the country speak volumes for the success of this new windshield.

“All correspondence relating to this invention should be addressed to the Springfield Harness Co., Springfield, Mass.”

(*Pantasote was a synthetic leather material manufactured by the Pantasote Co. of New York. Fiberloid was an early molded plastic manufactured by the Fiberloid Corporation, of Indian Orchard, Mass.)

During the teens Alphonse U. Premont reorganized his brother’s harness business and relocated it a few blocks away to 55 Dwight St. Alphonse served as president and treasurer, and his brother Georges Z., vice-president.

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 and just 2 blocks away from his brothers’ business.

The 1918 Springfield Business Directory revealed the formation of a third related business, the Springfield Coach Works, whose 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, pres. and treas.; David Duquette, Chicopee Falls, v-pres.; John E. Costigan, sec. Automobile tops, motor bodies, paint, leather and upholstery works and props. 55-69 Dwight-see p. 36.”

The 1920 Springfield/Chicopee directory lists additional Premonts all of which worked for one or another of the family’s businesses:

“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. at Hampden
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 of Massachusetts reports that Articles of Organization were filed on Sept 17, 1919; and the firm was incorporated on October 1, 1919 with $450,000 of authorized capital stock by A.U. Premont, M.B. Foster and William S. Fish.

The December, 1919 issue of Steam reported:

“The Springfield Coach Works, 59 Dwight Street, Chicopee, Mass., will alter present factory and build a boiler house on North Main Street. 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 recently acquired a plant on Center St. in Chicopee Falls near the Hendee Mfg. Co. A display ad seen to the right lists both addresses.

The May 20, 1920 issue of The Automobile announced the addition of another officer:

“L. J. Harley, Jr., president of the Harley Co., Springfield, Mass., has resigned to become president of the Springfield Coach Works.”

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 Harley Company, a Springfield-based manufacturer of cast and drop-forged bronze, iron and steel specialties. Harley Sr., a long-time employee of Smith & Wesson, who left in the early 1890s to become superintendent of the Elektron Co., a Springfield manufacturer of electric elevators. The officers of the company included; W. D. Sargent, president, E. H. Cutler, treasurer, L. J. Harley, superintendent, 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 firms, one of which was the Hendee Mfg. Co., the manufacturer of Indiana bicycles and motorcycles. In 1912 the Harleys formed their own small business, the September 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. Harley, Jr., 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 line was successful enough to have been spun off to the C.E. Bradley Corp. of Brattleboro, Vermont in 1918.

A prospectus for Springfield Coach Works’ recapitalization plan was published in the June 19, 1920 issue of US Investor:

“The Springfield Coach Works, a Massachusetts Corporation, Offers for Sale $100,000 Sinking Fund Cumulative Preferred Stock, to yield 8% Par Value $100 Available at 110 and accrued dividends

“TAX FREE in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont. FREE of Normal FEDERAL income tax. 1 share Common with every 4 shares Preferred.

“A GOING CONCERN which manufactures high-grade AUTOMOBILE BODIES and maintains a special department for the manufacture of CUSTOM BODIES. The company has large production CONTRACTS from the MERCER Motors Company, the DU PONT Motors Company and for CADILLAC, PIERCE-ARROW, PACKARD, FRANKLIN and other cars. It has $625,000 worth of contracts on hand, While contracts 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 $125

“PREFERENCES: Dividends are cumulative, preferential and payable quarterly. Preferred both as to Assets and Dividends. Callable at 110 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 almost impossible to get bodies made as fast as they require them. In view of this pressing demand and by reason of the exceptional facilities the Springfield Coach Works possesses—both in mechanical equipment and in highly skilled personnel—the future of this company may be safely predicted as unusually big.

“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 Co.
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 securities.

“We recommend this offering as a thoroughly well secured and conservative investment.
Write for Descriptive Folder, S. C. W.—101 Gibson & Company, Inc. 94 State Street, Springfield.”

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 Springfield Coach Works supplied some production bodies to the automaker.  

The 10 sub-contractors who supplied bodies for the Rolls-Royce Custom Coach Work program included Biddle and Smart, Brewster, Holbrook, Merrimac, New Haven Carriage Co., Smith-Springfield, Springfield Coach Works and Willoughby. Much speculation has been focused on the remaining builder, who mostly likely was the Springfield Body Corp. of Springfield, Massachusetts (not affiliated with Smith-Springfield), although the Amesbury 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 body builders:

“Springfield Body Works Planning for Expansion

“SPRINGFIELD, MASS., Jan. 3-Production of automobile 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 land and buildings on which its factory is located, and in the near future will erect a 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 number of 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 being received at such a gratifying rate at the Rolls-Royce works that it is planned to make another addition of 200 men to the plant force May 15, bringing the factory to practically normal production. The feature of the selling situation is the 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 the Rolls-Royce and other makes. With its associate concern, the Springfield Harness Works, it is rushing production of Hendee sidecars.

“The Springfield Coach Works and the associated company, the Springfield Harness Works, also reports an increasing number of 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, Rauch & Lang Co. of Cleveland, Ohio. Its operations were relocated to Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts, where the firm manufactured electric taxicabs in a portion of the J. Stevens Arms & Tool Company. Rauch & Lang Inc.’s officers included: H. W. Steiner, Pres.; F. H. T. Potter, Treas.; N. H. Richards, Sec., its directors: H. W. Steiner, Chrm. of Board, Springfield, Mass.; P. A. Frank, Longmeadow, Mass.; R. L. Jones, Boston, Mass. and F. H. T. Potter, Chicago, Illinois.

The taxicab field exploded during the early 1920s, but the field was quickly saturated and by 1924 many taxicab manufacturers were facing bankruptcy, Rauch & Lang Inc., among them. The April 17, 1924 issue of Automotive Industries reported:

“Rauch & Lang Plans Greater Production

“Difficulties That Arose from Changing to Taxicab Field Being Smoothed Out.

“Chicopee Falls, Mass., April 15 — H. W. Steiner, president and general manager of Rauch & Lang, Inc., whose plant has been offered for sale by the city of Chicopee for taxes, said today that an extension of time has been granted until May 1, and that arrangements would be effected by which the company’s production of gasoline and electric taxicabs would go forward uninterruptedly.

“The schedule, he says, calls for successive increases of production between now and September to fill orders already in hand. Twenty gasoline cabs a month are now being made, he said, which gradually will be raised to fifty. Production of electric cabs is said to be about six a month. Large outlays and various difficulties incidental to entering the taxicab field cramped the concern temporarily, he states, but most of the difficulties have been smoothed out, and orders and prospects warrant an optimistic view of the future.

“A portion of the Rauch & Lang plant was leased some months ago to Stevens-Duryea Motors Inc., and the two concerns are carrying their production on independently under the same roof. The old Stevens-Duryea plant is in use for storage. At the recent annual meeting of Rauch & Lang, Inc., Mr. Steiner was chosen president and Frank H. Potter of Chicago, treasurer.

“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 obligation and obtain additional working capital. The company has been devoting a large share 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 Springfield 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.) Springfield Upholstering 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 re-named/reorganized as 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 Springfield 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 1971-72. The facility was extensively remodeled in 2006 and re-christened the Massachusetts Mutual Center.

© 2012 Mark Theobald -







Bill Cuthbert – The Hupmobile Story; From Beginning To End, pub. 2004

James Eaton Tower (Editor) - Springfield Present and Prospective, pub. 1905

Western New England Magazine Vol 3, No. 1, January, 1913 issue

R. Thomas Willson - The First Hundred Years: 1853-1953 Baker-Raulang

Keith Marvin - Arthur Lee Holman - The Cars of 1923

Jason Goodwin - Otis: Giving Rise to the Modern City

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

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