Whitney Website

AO - Southbridge
Main Plant History (Page 1)


This photo is of the AO Main plant prior to building the Brick facility that is now the Southbridge Hotel and Conference Center.
The date of this photo 1888. The first 3 story wooden structure on this site was built in 1871 at a cost of $35,000.

1888 view of the AO Main Plant and workers below

A rare view of the AO Main Plant (Left - new brick construction, Right Old wood building) ~1895
Image fromJEL digital Treasures:
CWMars on-line digital Library

Prior to to moving to the Mechanic St location in 1871, the AO Factory was located at the Corner of Chestnut and Main St when it was built in 1839;
it was referred to as The Old Spec Shop. After it relocated to the site above, the Chestnut St. facility was used by Hyde manufacturing until it located to their present location.


The AO Mechanic St Site as it appeared in 1892.
I understand that the building below the carriage in the upper left was a lumber company, not AO.
The AO Main plant facility began where the number 15 is shown above.

The above 2 maps were created a 1892 Southbridge Map from this site
To make your own view, search for Southbridge MA and click on maps!!!
Click here for other Southbridge views from this site

Note that the photo below now shows the brick structures on either side of the wooden center buildings
(some of those shown in above photo). Also at bottom right can be seen the canal which no longer exits in front of the Main Plant.
This canal is also just above the main plant (near flag) in the 1892 map above.


The photo below is from Judi McIntyre's Postcard collection. It has a postmark of 1908.

Click on the image above, to see a similar view of Southbridge Hotel and Conference Center
complex as it appeared in June 2001!

AO Main Plant -1912 Below

Pictured above, the Main Plant as it appeared in 1912. All but the Central Front building which includes the Clock Tower were demolished;
the front facade of the entire Mechanic Street building still remains as well. Not pictured above is the entrance wing that presently extends from the right front of the building.
This is where the AO Auditorium was and is building 15 on the lower section.

1965 Blueprint Drawing (Building 1 clocktower remains, all other buildings demolished except for front facade

Postcard of Mechanic Steet view of AO Main Plant ~1930s

Excerpt from Historical Society Pamphlet - Date of Clock Tower (1900)

Secretary and Executive In the Main Plant  (Date Unknown)

Link to Main Plant Demolition and Construction photos from year 2000/2001
(Now refurbished as part of the new Southbridge Hotel)


November 1945 AO News Article about "Steeple Tom"

Page two of AO Main Plant History

Click Here for a Feb 27, 2002 look inside the AO Main Plant Clock Tower

Newly discovered 1940s model of the AO Main Plant (Optical Heritage Museum)
Jeanine McElroy helps to assemble the puzzle!
June 16, 2010 Dick Whitney Photos

Dick Whitney

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