Albert Manufacturing Co. Office
Village of Hillsborough Office
Bureau du village de Hillsborough
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Albert Manufacturing Co. Office is a rectangular single-storey Edwardian Classical commercial office building. Constructed in 1907, this red-brick building is located on elevated land on Main Street in Hillsborough. The building is an example of Edwardian Classicism with an apparent influence of Beaux Arts elements.
The Albert Manufacturing Co. Office was designated a Local Historic Place for its association with the history of the gypsum industry in Hillsborough and for being an example of Edwardian Classical commercial architecture.
The grades of gypsum available in Hillsborough and its purity lured the industrial revolution to Albert County in 1854. The present Village Office and Library served as the offices of the Albert Manufacturing Company from 1907 until the plaster mill closed in 1980. The land grants after the Acadian Expulsion in 1755 were laid out so many families such as the Steeves, Whitehead, Green, Hamm, Smith, Taylor and Sayre owned a section of the gypsum deposits in the escarpment just a few kilometres away. These early settlers occasionally collected wagonloads of gypsum rock and traded them with schooner captains, who, in turn, sold the mineral to plaster mills in Boston and New York. Over time, these mill owners realized that because of its high calcium content, plaster derived from Hillsborough gypsum dried faster and harder than any other. In 1854 the Tomkins family from New York arrived in Hillsborough and established the Albert Manufacturing Company, setting up their offices in this building in the early 20th century.
Joseph Thomkins managed the operation and lived in Hillsborough until his passing. Because of the Thomkins’ commitment to the area, their company did not just quarry and ship gypsum rock for processing elsewhere, but also set up their own mill that developed Hammer Brand Plaster, recognized throughout the world for its straight, durable and sparkling white finish. The grades of gypsum ranged from low-grade to high-grade and were shipped throughout North America. Quarrying was carried on year around by a force of two hundred men. The mill operation employed another one hundred skilled workers. The Albert Manufacturing Company brought a stable, salary-based economy to the area which meant a measure of prosperity and security for all.
The mill that was built in 1854 burned in 1873 and was replaced by a larger and more modern plant. The steeply-pitched roofed storage shed still on the property was built during this expansion. The second mill burned in 1911. Its replacement was again bigger and better than the old facility.
In 1877, Mr. Charles Osman joined the company and cemented his relationship with the owner by becoming Mr. Joseph Tompkins’ son-in-law. Mr. Osman was a singular gentleman, born in London England, who adopted Hillsborough as his home and the promotion of Albert County and the Albert Manufacturing Co. as his life’s work. During his forty-five years with the Company, thirty-five as its general manager, he fought to keep the Hillsborough operation as independent and as broadly-focused as it had always been. After 76 years of ownership, the Tomkins Family sold The Albert Manufacturing Company to the United States Gypsum Company in 1930. In 1980 the mill was closed and the daily dynamite blasts echoing across the County from the quarries were heard no more.
Source: Heritage Hillsborough, William Henry Steeves House Museum, Local Historic Places files
The character-defining elements relating to the exterior elements of the Albert Manufacturing Co. Office include:
- location adjacent to two early mill buildings from 1873;
- proximity to twin concrete silos built for gypsum storage in 1932;
- single-storey rectangular massing;
- moderately pitched hipped roof;
- copper finals on the roof ridge;
- exposed rafters under wide sloping eaves;
- red brick walls with quoin details;
- gable-roofed dormer with multi-paned windows;
- tall red brick chimney;
- double-hung segmented arch windows with shaped transoms and sandstone lintels and sills;
- cement foundation;
- projecting central entrance with a gable roof, broken pediment and spooled balustrade under the eaves;
- square columns supporting the pediment;
- pilasters on either side of entrance door;
- cement steps with wrought iron railings.
Local Governments (NB)
Heritage Conservation Act
Local Historic Place (municipal)
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Extraction and Production
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Architecture and Design
Function - Category and Type
- Office or office building
- Natural Resource Extraction Facility or Site
- Mineral Products Manufacturing Facility
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
William Henry Steeves House Museum, 40 Mill Street, Hillsborough, NB E4H 1Z8
Cross-Reference to Collection