Newell Manufacturing Company
The Newell Manufacturing Company was formed in 1940 by Frank Newell and I. O. Altenburger and was known for making two opposite, very different items - hardware for doors and air fired toy guns.
The company incorporated with Frank Newell as president and general manager and I.O Altenburger as vice-president in charge of production. Mr. Newell had been in sales and Mr. Altenburger was a manager with the Lowell Manufacturing Company, located at 324 W. Main St, where the Shell Gas Station is now. Newell Manufacturing moved into the former West Ward School at 615 Chatham Street when the city consolidated schools and began leasing the building. Eventually the company bought the building and property, and built their own building.
In 1949 Lowell was represented at the 46th annual American Toy Fair in New York City by Mr. and Mrs. Frank Newell. The Newells were exhibiting the company’s toy guns. The toy was an air fire sub-machine gun. It was made with a plastic stock and polished aluminum barrel. Each ‘gun’ sold was packed with three red table tennis balls bearing the Newell Company trademark. In 1949 over 300,000 toy guns were shipped from Lowell all over the world!
The company went through hard times when Frank Newell unexpectedly died of a heart attack in 1957, and I.O. Altenburger died in 1960. The company reorganized under the manager, Wallace Hook, with investors from Grand Rapids. The company continued in the field of door hardware.
Mrs. Helen Look Newell was the daughter of Dexter G. Look, successful Lowell druggist and wife of Newell. Upon her death she left her estate to the Lowell Congregational Church and the City of Lowell.
In 1968 the company was acquired by Wolverine Industries of Grand Rapids and in 1981 the Dayton – Walther Corporation of Dayton, Ohio became the owner. The Newell Manufacturing building still stands on Chatham Street and is now home to PURforms.