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Durant Building Elizabeth/Newark Frelingheisen Ave

Posted by Ororeef @ 17:46 on September 22, 2014  

Special to Old Cars Weekly

By Arthur G. Petridis, Elizabeth, N.J.

A bit of Auto history and a personal connection ..My wife worked at this building for “Terry Mints”for a while as a teenager.located in part of the 1/4 mile long Durant Building .Anybody remember the Duesenberg Auto ? Sometimes the mints would jam up as they came down the Assembly and the girls job was to remove them before the packing machine got them It was like a “I love Lucy scene ” girls struggling to remove the broken mints..sometimes eating them  so the packing machine wouldent pack them…It was so funny ,Im sure it had to be the genisis of the Lucy working at the cookie factory scene !



On Dec. 22, 2011, an iconic piece of automotive history exploded into flames resulting in an eight-alarm fire that burned for several days.

As I read the news articles about the massive fire in Elizabeth, N.J., there is an important part of the building’s history and a big piece of New Jersey’s history that is forgotten.

The building was latest subdivided into many small businesses and storage uses. Before that, it had been the Burry Biscuit factory and I remember smelling the cookies being baked.

The real history began when the building was first built. In 1917, Fred Duesenberg built an assembly plant in Elizabeth, N.J. The plant was not successful and was soon taken over by John N. Willys of the Willys-Overland Company. Millions were poured into this plant and it was considered to be one of the largest and most modern assembly plants in the country.

Durant took over the assembly plant when Willys-Overland ran out of capital. Durant announced that his new Star automobiles would be made in Elizabeth, N.J. In November 1922, history was again made when the first Star emerged out of the Elizabeth plant. More than 1,000 workers were employed at this plant.

The housing market exploded and much of the houses seen standing today in that section of Elizabeth were built as a result of the Durant assembly plant providing jobs. Mr. Durant subsidized many of the houses as he wanted to attract the best workers possible.   By the end of the decade, however, Durant was out business and the Elizabeth plant was abandoned.

In 1934, the Burry Biscuit Company took over the building and it became the company’s home office. This ran as a successful business for many years.

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Post by the Golden Rule. Oasis not responsible for content/accuracy of posts. DYODD.