The Trimont Tool Co. wasn’t technically on Fort Hill with its location at 55-71 Amory Street in JP, but it was so close that I can see it from the rear of my house on Beech Glen Street now that the leaves are off the trees.
The Trimont factory on Amory Street in 1915. The building is still standing and is better known for its predecessor, the Rockland Brewery. It was the original home of Bikes not Bombs and was for many years used as artists lofts. Below is a picture of it from Columbus Ave near the Dimock Hospital.
After the Rockland Brewery closed in 1902, the Trimont Tool Company moved in. The company, owned by the Ely brothers, was famous across the country for its high-quality wrenches and pipe-fitting tools made under the Trimo name. The tools were built to last, and you can still find serviceable pipe wrenches on eBay for about the same price as you might pay for a more modern version. I’m happy to say that I was able to pick up a wood-handled 8” wrench that I would be glad to use on a plumbing job for under $10 shipped. It’s so strange to think that they used to make tools like this across the street.
The company was well-advertised, and you can find old ads in Scientific American magazines from the 1910s and 1920s easily enough. Here’s a typical ad from 1924:
One of the interesting things about the Trimont Company was its role in labor disputes in the early part of the 20th century. At the time, working conditions were terrible across the country and unions were making rapid inroads. Here’s a letter written in opposition of a proposed 1902 law that would have required companies supplying equipment to the federal government to have given their workers an 8-hour workday. It was written by Charles Ely, who took over as president of Trimont just a few months earlier after the death of his brother Edward.
I would expect that some of the men who worked in the factory lived in our neighborhood, probably along Ritchie Street, Marcella Street, and the lower end of Highland. It’s comforting to think that after their 10 or 12 hour workdays, they could stop by one of our local breweries and saloons for a pint before heading home.
But despite his hard-nosed business tactics, Charles Ely had a softer side. He published a book of poetry that is available online called “The Image Maker and Other Poems" which is a must-have for the Roxbury historian, although I’m not sure poetry lovers will feel the same way. It’s not so hard to imagine him sitting on a hill somewhere in Roxbury with his quill pen writing his odes to nature. Click the picture for a link to his biography.
The company stayed in business until 1954, when it appears to have been sold.