UNC Charlotte Special Collections J. Murrey Atkins Library - Special Collections & University Archives

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Parks-Cramer Company records

 Collection
Identifier: MS0549

Scope and Contents

Two bound annual reports for Parks-Cramer Company. One is for calendar years 1918-1929, and the second volume covers 1930-1935.

Dates

  • 1918 - 1935

Creator

Language of Materials

Collection guide is in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Historical Note - Parks-Cramer Company

Built in 1919 and expanded in the ensuing decades, the Parks-Cramer Company Complex represented the heyday of textile manufacturing and related industries in and around Charlotte. Parks-Cramer would later have offices in Fitchburg, Boston, and Charlotte. Parks-Cramer Company, maker of humidifying and air-conditioning equipment for the cotton-textile industry, built a factory in Charlotte's streetcar suburb of Dilworth. The building contractor was E. H. Clement and Company of Charlotte (Manufacturers' Record 1919). The "immense plant" on South Boulevard was home for the southern operations of the Parks-Cramer Company (Charlotte Daily Observer October 9, 1919). The Parks-Cramer Company had purchased the vacant tract from the Great Falls Power Company, a New Jersey firm which had acquired the tract in 1910 from the D.A. Tompkins Company (Mecklenburg County Register of Deeds 1910, 1919).

The organization of the Parks-Cramer Company involved one of the figures in the development of the southern textile industry in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Charlottean Stuart Warren Cramer. The company was founded in 1918, when the G.M. Parks Company, manufacturers of industrial piping, heating, and ventilation systems based in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, purchased Cramer's business interests. Cramer, who had retired from business in 1918, was among the principal inventors and entrepreneurs associated with the region's growing production of cotton textiles. Born in 1868 in Thomasville, North Carolina, he was educated at the United States Naval Academy and the Columbia University School of Mines, In the early 1890s, Cramer was chief engineer and manager of the D. A. Tompkins Company in Charlotte. This firm was one of the South's foremost distributors of cotton-mill machinery and supplies, and its owner, Daniel Augustus Tompkins, was a major builder of cotton mills and a leader of New South industrialization. In 1895, Cramer established his own business and, over the next ten years, designed and equipped over 150 (or roughly one-third of all) cotton mills in the South.

In addition to Cramer, another figure instrumental to the success of the Parks-Cramer business venture in Charlotte was William Beach Hodge. The chief engineer for Cramer, Hodge subsequently assumed the position of vice-president and southern manager of the Parks-Cramer Company. Like Cramer, Hodge's contributions to the textile industry included a series of patents related largely to improving air conditioning systems. In 1940, he was recognized as a "Modern Pioneer in Air Conditioning" (Who's Who 1947,440).

The production of Parks-Cramer humidifiers and air-conditioning equipment began amidst growing experimentation and innovation throughout Europe and the United States in all forms of industrial ventilating, heating, cooling, and air-washing systems. The well-established textile industry spurred much of this experimentation, particularly after World War I, when manufacturers were increasingly concerned with technological innovations to increase productivity in the mills. Air-conditioning in the cotton mills, which concerned primarily the control of humidity levels and airborne particles, was crucial to maximum productivity. The demand for humidity had been one of the factors in the location of the early mills near the rivers and coast of New England, and the ability to recreate artificially this condition was key to the success of textile mills in the South. Atmospheric moisture helped prevent the yarns from breaking which, in addition to wasting materials and producing a loose weave, caused machines to malfunction. Furthermore, air-washing equipment helped reduce the lint created during textile production which generated static electricity as well as hazardous working conditions.

Cramer originated the now commonly used term "air conditioning" and defined it to include humidifying with its resulting evaporative cooling, air cleansing, heating and ventilation. He had more than 60 patents in humidity control and ventilating equipment for cotton mills and installed scores of such systems in plants across the South. In 1904, he introduced an electrically operated heat and humidity control mechanism, and in 1905, an automatic hygrometer. These instruments were predecessors of the Psychrostat, a humidifier control instrument, which was one of the principal products of the Parks-Cramer Company. His most successful patent was for the "Cramer System of Air Conditioning," which included the automatic regulation of temperature and humidity. These early innovations in air conditioning resulted more from the need to remove lint from the air (a persistent problem in the textile mills) than to cool the factory atmosphere.

Parks-Cramer Co. published many bulletins, pamphlets and other publications valuable to the textile industry. Among them: “Fluid Heat Transmission by the Merrill Process” ; “Air Conditioning In Printing And Lithographic Plants” - Bulletin 1029 ; “Automatic Humidity Regulation: Advantages & Possibilities” - Bulletin 921. The Parks-Cramer Company continued to expand its operations through the middle twentieth century. While the company employed 52 men and two women in 1930, by the 1950s, the work force had grown to over 100 employees (Charlotte Chamber of Commerce 1930; Charlotte Observer, April 19, 1986). The Parks-Cramer Company functioned on the South Boulevard site until 1988, when the firm sold its operations and leased the factory.

Additional source: The Parks-Cramer Company Complex, Charlotte-Mecklendburg Historic Landmarks Commission, http://www.cmhpf.org/Properties%20Foundation%20Reports/ParxCramer.html

Extent

1 Linear Feet : 2 bound volumes

Overview

Annual reports for 1918-1935, in 2 bound volumes, for Parks-Cramer Company, a manufacturer of early HVAC equipment for factories and mills.

Arrangement

The two volumes of annual reports are arranged in chronological order.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The two volumes were donated by Patricia Dadge, a previous Parks-Cramer employee, who found them during a company move.

Related Materials

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission Collection (MSS 077) ; Mecklenburg Iron Works drawings (MSS 190) ; Parks-Cramer Co. (Article Publication: Time, 9/11/1933, Vol. 22 Issue 11, p44, Database: Academic Search Complete)

Processing Information

The collection was processed by Julie Henry in 2017.

Creator

Status
Completeexceptcataloging
Author
J. Henry
Date
Sept. 2017
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscript Collections, J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections and University Archives, UNC Charlotte Repository

Contact:
Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte
9201 University City Blvd
Charlotte 28223 United Stated