If you’re planning a trek through Montclair’s art galleries today, you’ll get to see the newly renovated Brassworks on Grove. It’s stop #1 on Montclair Gallery Walk (noon-5pm today), which features paintings by local artists Paula Stark and Craig Mierop.
Montclair businessmen – Jack Finn, Bob Silver, and architect John Reimnitz, who came up with the idea of restoring 105 Grove, have transformed a turn-of-the-century former brassworks factory into a stunning design gallery exhibiting Finn and colleagues’ craftmanship (Parson’s Cabinetry pictured in the pop-up), and unique office space, while remaining faithful to the original 1930 architectural details… Perfect for pictures at an exhibition.
Jack Finn provided some history on this building:
Originally constructed during the early twentieth century, 105 Grove Street was for many years home to the family-owned George Rutledge Etched Brass Works company.
Over the years of its existence, the George Rutledge Etched Brass Works company produced many metal-etched commercial signs, building dedications, and framed brass plaques, including some that hang on Mountainside Hospital√¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢s dedication wall today. The company also worked in aluminum and copper, particularly when brass became very expensive during World War I. They produced commercial tags for electric engines, battery box cases and, during World War II, US military ammunition cases. Brass signs, desk sets, and etched portraits can still be found for sale at auctions.
Born in England in 1844, Rutledge settled at 138 Walnut Street, Montclair, in 1886. At first, Rutledge and his partner located their metal sign etching company in Manhattan; however, the desire to work near home prompted Rutledge to purchase a factory located on Grove Street on May 6, 1903, from an Ella Booth.
With Rutledge as the principal etcher and designer/purchaser of all the equipment, the business flourished, requiring expansion of the building in both 1908 and 1910.
Unfortunately, also in 1910, Rutledge became ill with Parkinson√¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢s disease. To help with the business, he brought in his nephew Henry George Nash. Nash worked with Rutledge, and then took over the company when his uncle became incapacitated in 1915. Rutledge died in 1921. With him, sadly, went much of the artistic side of the brass works operations. No other family member could match his level of etching artistry. BrassWorks on Grove owns the last etching, a portrait of a master sailing ship, created by Rutledge.
By 1931, the original building was knocked down to make way for a new space. A one-story, block office and warehouse/garage, this became the first leg of the L-shaped structure that exists today, and is the space that presently houses the BrassWorks on Grove office complex.
From 1956 until 1968, a car dealer used the building for vehicle storage. Subsequent usage of the site included warehousing, shipping, and office space.
In 1969, the site was purchased by Mr. Roy Cook, owner of Rex Hide Automotive, to house his wholesale auto parts business. In 1972, the second part of the L-shaped space was constructed. The warehouse that presently houses E&L Battery and Ignition, is owned by Steven Blumenkranz, a Newark businessman. Blumenkranz√¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢ Grandfather, Eddie, started the business in 1923.
Construction and restoration at 105 Grove began in October 2006, with tenant occupancy in June 2007. BrassWorks on Grove celebrated its Grand Opening in September 2007.