Barstow Stove Co., Prov. R.I.

This is a timeline of the Barstow Stove Co., which is most commonly associated with its Point Street location in Providence, Rhode Island. I have found a LOT of information on this foundry, and am currently working on a book on the life of Amos Barstow and the stove industry in Rhode Island throughout the 19th century. The sources for this are numerous and almost exclusively primary.

There are probably close to 100 at this point. The book I am working on will have a proper works cited page; however, there’s no such luxury yet. And so I am linking to all of them simultaneously by linking to my Facebook group that’s exclusively dedicated to researching this foundry, Barstow Stove Co. Collectors and Researchers. I am constantly working to streamline the group for others, but for now it mostly serves as a research dump for all materials, speculation, purchases, and discussions I have and have had about the Barstow Stove Co. I encourage you to join, if for no other reason than to learn how much can be learned about 19th century iron foundries.

Cropped from a 1904 bill head in my collection.

Amos Chafee Barstow, Sr. was born April 30, 1813 to parents Nathaniel Barstow and Sophia Chafee Barstow. His older brother, Nathan Chafee Barstow was born in 1812 but didn’t survive his first year. His mother died when he was just four years old in 1817. His father remarried to Martha Randall Barstow, and they had one child, Amos’s half brother Ephraim Randall Barstow, born in 1819.

At age 17, in 1830, Amos began working at the store of James Eames, on what would become Westminster Street (then High Street). This store did him well, as he married his boss’s daughter and managed to save up enough money to open up his own stove and hollowware foundry in 1836 at age 23. This was located in Norton, Massachusetts, and at this point I know very little of the actual location other than that it was fairly small, and he was a partner. He designed his first stoves, which were in production and offered for sale in 1837. However, he had a dealership located at 10 Broad Street in Providence, which was under the name City Furnace, A. C. Barstow & Co. listed in 1839, so his presence was always in Providence as well.

Amos Sr. designed his own patterns and did his own foundry work here, and was quite successful. Just 8 years later he moved his foundry to his home city of Providence, opening up on the corner of Point and Chestnut street. This foundry was still called City Furnace, A. C. Barstow & Co..

A. C. Barstow & Co. offered a full line of stoves in several sizes and with a full line of hollowware to complement them. They came outfitted with skillets, griddles, heaters, and other items as a package. Unfortunately the majority of their hollowware is not shown in their catalogs. Their stand-alone offerings were, however, and these included square and oval boilers, gem pans, waffle irons, bread pans, bailed griddles, bailed grid irons, scotch bowls, kettles, tea kettles, and more. I have compiled a master list of their hollowware which includes catalog images, photographs, the earliest known date of offer, and what has been found (that I know of, you may know something I don’t). You can check it out at the above mentioned group. If you have something to add, post it in the group and/or let me know so I can update the master list.

The Hollowware Page from their 1883 catalog. Typically there was another page that listed other items like spiders (skillets) and tea kettles. The offerings pictured are not always the same.

In 1846, a fire broke out at the Fuller Iron Works foundry and destroyed most of the neighborhood. Fuller was on the corner of Point Street and Pawtuxet Turnpike, less than three blocks from A. C. Barstow & Co.. Barstow’s foundry was reduced to partial walls, however his insurance money and that which he was able to save allowed him to pretty much break even.

A section of an 1835 Providence City Map which I have marked with the locations of Barstow (black) and Fuller (red) to show the proximity to the fire. Yes 1835 is before Barstow’s time, but the next map we have is 1849 and by then, Pawtuxet Ave. was no more.

For the next couple of years it’s a bit of a gray area in the timeline. But it’s worth noting that in 1847 A. C. Barstow & Co. is recorded as being at 40 Broad Street, which is the same location as Coggeshall & Barstow (which became Wardwell & Barstow in 1851 after the dissolution of the partnership with Coggeshall). Wardwell & Barstow was his brother Ephraim’s firm, and being just a year after the fire, it seems plausible he temporarily housed his business with his brother’s while rebuilding on Point Street.

Barstow’s 2 acre complex in the 1860s.
An aerial photo of the complex in 2020.

In 1849, A. C. Barstow & Co. returned to the corner of Point and Chestnut streets.

Tops Electric has been there since 1944. The building on the left of this picture is part of the 1849 complex.

In 1852, Amos Barstow became the mayor of Providence for a single term, and with a temperance platform. In 1853 he was no longer mayor and along with his cousin Zechariah Chafee and Appollos Richmond, purchased the High Street Furnace and formed Builders Iron Foundry.

Builders Foundry was large establishment focused primarily on architectural and ornamental iron work, it seemed almost mainly an investment property for many of the wealthy industrial families to grow even wealthier through stock offerings in a consolidated industrial manufacture.

In 1859, Amos Barstow incorporated his business as the Barstow Stove Co., Providence, Rhode Island.

Some time in the 1860s, Barstow expanded into Maine. There was a sale of the location to D. B. Wing, but that apparently didnt work out as they were still listed in Portland in 1868. However, they sold this location to Nutter Bros. in 1871.

In 1862 no mention of other locations was made so we know it was most likely 1863-65. C. C. Tolman was their agent in Portland, and he had a stove sales firm that sold by 1860. After the sale, Nutter retained him.

Maine may have been chosen for their first expansion due to Amos’s connection to their temperance politics at the time. However they may have all been roughly simultaneous and I’m not satisfied with the fuzziness here.

Also by some time in the 1860s, the Barstow Stove Co. had indentured workers working under contract. This may have been a way to recruit cheap immigrant labor while simultaneously undermining unionized molders working for him and in the area.

In January 1869 A. C. Barstow, Jr. becomes the company treasurer.

By 1870, Barstow had expanded into both New York and Boston. All three of their other locations were sales. Castings were done in Providence after 1844.

In the 1870s, Barstow began offering the Garland line of oil stoves.

In 1900, Barstow acquired the patterns, stock, and customers of the Spicer Stove Co. (formerly Spicers & Peckham, which was formerly Dutee Arnold & Co. Founded 1850, became Spicer & Peckham, later Spicers & Peckham, in 1862). This left them as the sole stove foundry in the Providence area.

In 1904 Barstow acquired the patterns, stock, and customers of Richmond Ranges of Norwich, Connecticut.

In September, 1894, Amos Chafee, Sr. died, and his son A. C. Jr. succeeded him as president of the company.

In 1917 Barstow acquired the patterns, stock, and customers of Smith & Anthony of Boston, Massachusetts. Edgar Anthony got his start at Barstow and wound up the manager of the New York branch. In the later 1870s he left and started Smith & Anthony. Most notable of this was the Hub line.

In 1927 the Barstow Stove Co. withdrew from the International Molders’ Union and announced that it was closing its foundry operations. From this point on, their castings were done elsewhere, their foundrymen were laid off, and the plant focused on the assembly of stamped steel gas and electric ranges.

Sometime likely during the early 1930s the Barstow name was acquired by Leonard and Baker, who produced a range of their own products with Barstow name plates on them. It’s unlikely any Barstow hollow ware was produced after 1927.

In 1934, the Point Street location became a box factory (I need a good citation for this).

In 1944, Tops Electric opened up in the Point Street location and has been there since.

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