Saturday, April 4, 2015

page 141 -- J.D. Larkin & Co., Austin, Nichols & Co.

updated 27 January 2016
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As of 2015, the site of the J.D. Larkin & Co. facility is now the Larkin Center of Commerce, a modern building with large parking area on the other side of Seneca St. in Buffalo, NY.

The Larkin cards on this page were part of a series of 6. (Guess that means two of our frogs got away.) The backs of the cards had messages, one of which is reproduced below:



Here's a sample J.D. Larkin ad from Google Books,

The Archival and Manuscript Collections of the University of Buffalo hold the operating papers of the Larkin Company, which was a huge enterprise at one time. The UB site also has a history of the corporation. According to their records,
"The Larkin Company is perhaps best noted for its innovations in personnel management. It offered employees a company gymnasium and a choral society; it purchased a $90,000 pipe organ to play background music for its workers in the Administration Building; it sponsored concerts; and it gave an annual company picnic at the J. D. Larkin St. homestead in Evans Center, N.Y. (The estate later became a retreat for nuns, named D'Youville on the Lake, though some Larkin family members still live on it or adjacent to it on Evans Center Road.)
"Besides publishing an employee magazine called Ourselves, which contained company notices, announcements of awards, news and local events, the company in 1919 instituted a cooperative employee ownership plan which allowed employees to share in company profits according to salary, service, and war record. Employees were also given discounts on Larkin products."

Austin, Nichols & Co. was the largest wholesale grocery in the world at one time. They built a huge warehouse in Brooklyn, NY that became the focus of quite a battle in the 21st century--a battle to preserve it.

A Google Image search yields a collage of photos of the Austin, Nichols & Co. warehouse over the course of its history:


I recommend the 9 January 2009 New York Times article on the Austin, Nichols & Co. warehouse. People advocating the restoration of this historic building faced numerous political obstacles. "Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat" would certainly describe their experience.

The Municipal Art Society of New York, among others, made the case for preservation of the warehouse. They emphasized the historic roots of the building and the pioneering principles used in its design.

Below is a Google Street View of the Austin, Nichols warehouse building as of Sept 2014:



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