A Window on the Previous – Charles S. Chase Firm


On the time, it was fairly neat to hitch what was one among Maine’s oldest constantly working companies. For those who observe our firm intently over time, you will discover nice photos not solely of the event of producing merchandise because the mid-Nineteenth century, but in addition of developments in business transportation, native historical past and my household. ,

Walter S Rowe

The corporate I owned was based in 1842 as Samuel Beale & Firm (aka, Beale & Morse) and was first situated on Portland’s Canal Wharf. In 1870, the corporate’s identify was modified to CAB Morse & Firm. Charles S. A younger man by the identify of Chase additionally joined the agency in 1870. Fourteen years later, Chase bought a controlling curiosity within the firm and the enterprise grew to become Charles S. Chase Firm

Charles S. The Chase Firm dealt in associated merchandise equivalent to cement, lime, bricks, and horsehair (which was used as an combination to make plaster within the Nineteenth century). Lime and cement got here to Portland from Midcoast Maine (Rockland and Thomaston) through slopes and schooners. Canal Ghat A number of occasions after the years, the corporate additionally referred to as Business Ghat and Union Ghat house. Charles Chase’s father and uncle, Sewall and Edward Chase, constructed a lot of the brick buildings in Portland on the time, together with the Grand Trunk Railroad Depot, Galt Block and Thomas Block, amongst many others.

Alan B. Rowe, Sr.

The corporate confronted the intense hardships of the Nice Despair and different main financial downturns, together with a civil warfare, two world wars, and different intervals of geopolitical battle. However it’s maybe most notable that in its digital infancy, the enterprise survived the Nice Hearth of Portland of 1866. The hearth worn out a lot of the Portland Peninsula. As a survivor, the corporate was in a position to play a job in Portland’s post-fire reconstruction as a key a part of the distribution chain that introduced constructing supplies from producers to builders.

My great-grandfather, Walter Scott Rowe, within the late Nineteenth century, Charles S. Trucking was executed with horses and wagons for the chase. Round 1895, Walter grew to become a companion of Charles Chase and included his enterprise in 1902. One of many massive single building initiatives equipped by the Chase Firm throughout that period was Fort Williams in Cape Elizabeth.

Alan B. Rowe, Jr.

On the finish of Charles Chase’s tenure and with Walter Rowe becoming a member of him, the corporate commissioned one of many first motorized business supply automobiles within the space. Charles Chase died in 1920. Shortly earlier than that date, my great-grandfather took over as chairman of the company. Additionally throughout this period, an early company earnings tax return (federal company earnings tax was launched in 1909) displays the relative simplicity of enterprise/authorities relations. Gross receipts, much less value of products offered, much less bills, multiplied by the tax fee equal to your tax. a part of a web page. Period. completed and executed.

The twentieth century introduced many adjustments within the building enterprise. Cement plaster and wooden lath changed rock lath and gypsum plaster, after which sheetrock. Particularly in business building, steel framing changed wooden. Numerous resins, polymers, and many others., introduced new and thrilling choices to the outside of buildings. As Maine’s roads, highways, and communications infrastructure improved, the corporate’s service sector, workforce, and distribution fleet grew.

James S. Rowe 4 generations of the Rowe household managed the Charles S. Chase Firm.

Walter Rowe’s son, Alan B. Rowe, Sr. (my grandfather) joined his father within the Chase Firm round 1919, following his service within the Navy throughout World Battle I and attending the College of Maine. My father, Alan B. Rowe, Jr., joined the agency in 1946 with the Military Air Corps after his personal service within the Pacific Theater throughout World Battle II and attending the College of Maine.

In 1956, two Alan Rowe moved the corporate from Union Wharf in Portland to eight Kelsey St in South Portland. The corporate’s most popular mode of transport of incoming lime and cement had shifted from boat to rail and the corporate not wanted dock house. Its new house was situated on railroad-owned land and had a prestigious railroad siding. The constructing additionally considerably elevated space for storing for stock, and it quickly stuffed to capability. Insulation, tile chimney liners, sewer and drainage pipe, concrete block, rock lath, numerous specialty plaster, drywall and plenty of types and sizes of equipment, metal studs and joists, amongst different issues, had been added to the corporate’s product strains all through Kelsey Avenue. Had gone. years.

It was through the Sixties that rail service started to lose its aggressive edge to overland truck haulers. Many of the cargo began coming by tractor-trailer rigs. By the mid-Seventies, rail siding had grow to be successfully out of date for the corporate’s functions.

The Charles S. Chase Firm moved to South Portland in 1956 when it started enterprise at 8 Kelsey St. South Portland Historic Society Picture

I joined Dad on the Chase Firm in 1974 after graduating from the College of Maine. I’d say that the three most notable developments throughout my tenure with my father and I had been:

In 1976, we had been one of many first, if not the primary building supplies provide agency in Maine, to make use of supply vehicles outfitted with hydraulic cranes (that is now the business commonplace).

In 1986, we designed and constructed our 20,000-square-foot state-of-the-art workplace/warehouse facility in Rumery Industrial Park, South Portland.

Quickly after, beneath the course of my sister Priscilla, we switched from a very handbook bookkeeping and accounting system to 1 by which all work was run and built-in by pc expertise.

I am proud that in my 35 years at Chase Firm, annual gross sales grew sevenfold (nicely above the speed of inflation, an indication of strong and regular “actual progress”). At its peak, the corporate employed 13 full-time workers and one part-time workplace assistant. Its supply fleet consisted of a “10-wheeler” outfitted with 4 cranes, two small stake-body flat vehicles and a pickup. Though thought-about a small enterprise by most requirements, the corporate was one among Maine’s largest suppliers of drywall and steel framing because the Seventies. Within the 2000s, we had been one of many prime New England-based members of Amarok, a number one nationwide affiliation of impartial drywall sellers.

In 1986, the Charles S. Chase Firm designed and constructed this 20,000 sq. foot workplace/warehouse at 177 Money St. South Portland Historic Society Picture

As the standard retirement age approached, I started to think about a profession exit technique. Neither of my sons had a specific curiosity in including one other era of Rowe household possession to the Chase Firm, which was nice for me. Given the practically devastating financial downturn of the final decade, I would not have been notably comfy bringing them up anyway. Regardless of the nationwide financial disaster and a robust monetary place and good popularity within the business, The Chase Firm was a really marketable entity.

Close to the top of 2008, I offered the agency to an excellent regional chief in the identical business and I have not appeared again (okay, perhaps a glimpse or two, however I am not obsessed). Was it troublesome to let go of one thing to which you and three generations of ancestors devoted their complete careers? Completely. However I’m additionally very glad to know that our firm has made an actual, tangible (actually and figuratively) contribution to this glorious place by which we dwell, work and lift our households – all of it. With out compromising on the ideas which have guided my household for a lot of. greater than 4 generations.

Throughout its lengthy historical past, the Charles S. Chase Firm supplied building merchandise to building websites all through southern Maine, principally from Kitty to Augusta. The extra acquainted initiatives we lined included: the State Capitol Constructing in Augusta, the One Metropolis Middle workplace advanced in Portland, Portland Metropolis Corridor, the previous Cumberland County Civic Middle (now the Cross Insurance coverage Area), the Edward T. Gignoux Federal Courtroom Home, Bowdoin School’s Walker Artwork Constructing, Piper Shores Retirement Neighborhood, Pond Cove Elementary Faculty and Cape Elizabeth Center and Excessive Faculty, together with numerous different residential, business, municipal and industrial initiatives.

We’re proud to be a accountable company citizen. Along with repeatedly contributing financially to various charities, we supplied free or quick discounted supplies to organizations equivalent to Habitat for Humanity, the Constructing Supplies Financial institution and the Space Vo-Tech Constructing Instruction Program. When house adaptation initiatives are wanted for folks with debilitating sickness or damage, we had been nonetheless very taken with serving to.

Effective and revolutionary merchandise made by the perfect producers, loyal workers, and above all, nice clients have accounted for a wonderful 166-year run!

When you’ve got images, artifacts or data from South Portland’s previous to share, we would love to listen to from you. The South Portland Historic Society may be reached by e-mail at 207-767-7299 [email protected]or by mail at 55 Bug Mild Park, South Portland, ME 04106.

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