|Conlon Baking Company
One of the finest, if not THE finest examples of Art Deco design in the area
Let's take a closer look.....
Steel? Check! Glass Block? Check!
Vitrolite? Check! Porthole Windows? Check!
Soft Curves? Check!
has always been an industrial town. Little thought was ever
given to most commercial buildings, especially factories.
One of the few factories that broke that mold was the
Conlon Baking Company. In 1938 Conlon, (who started out at 603
Brooks Street) decided to expand. Kanawha City was still
fairly rural and land cheap. Not only did they want lots of room, but
they wanted to build the most beautiful bakery in the state.
Art-Deco had taken the world by storm, and so they decided to
build in that style. The finished building was amazing for it's
time, especially around here. People who appreciate great
architecture loved the building. Unfortunately, far too many
people cared less about it. Not only was it used in later years
as a state welfare office, but finally wound-up being remodeled as
the headquarters of City National Bank in 1972. While the bank
building is certainly attractive in it's own right, it's simply
not the 1938 building of an exciting era gone by..|
You could buy Butter Krust Bread unsliced back then
Then... in 1972
City National Bank purchased the long closed bakery from Fred Haddad and had it remodeled
So... what happened?
|I wish I knew...|Here's what I do know: Conlon had been a part of Charleston and the valley for many years.
They spared no expense on their product and their future. Butter Krust Bread was THE bread
to buy in the early days. And who else would have thought to build such a magnificent building
in 1938? Later, as the competition started to move in, Conlon, like any business started to feel
the pinch I suppose, but with such a powerful Brand, that doesnt explain their demise. All
companies like Conlon (milk companies etc) were Union. There were many strikes over the
years, but that wouldnt explain it either. A couple of serious accidents happened within a couple
of years of each other however. The first was a little girl in Clendenin. She was trying to cross
the road in front of a Conlon bread truck. The driver waved her and her friend across. She was
then struck by a car coming around the truck. Conlon paid $65,000 for injuries, a lot of money
around 1958. Didn't they have insurance? I dont know.
Then, in 1960 a poor boy was killed in a freak accident when a hand pump sprayer he was
using somehow blew apart. The bottle came up and hit him in the face...
Did these accidents add to the demise of Conlon? Most likely. But I think a combination
of many things is what probably did it. If you know more, contact me.
In the meantime, Stork Baking out of Parkersburg purchased Conlon.
On December 18, 1962, Conlon and Storck Baking Company entered into an agreement which
gave Storck the option to purchase certain assets of Conlon including the land and
operating assets but not cash, U. S. Treasury bills and bonds and other miscellaneous
assets, and under date of December 22, 1962, Storck exercised the option. On January 3, 1963.
Since Storck wanted to use Conlon's name, effective January 13, 1963, the corporate
name of Conlon was changed to Almath Corporation, but on September 5, 1963, the
stockholders of Almath held a special meeting and unanimously adopted a resolution for
dissolution of the corporation.
Ok, Conlon is history and the building rented out to the WV state welfare office. Later, as
mentioned earlier, the property is bought by City National Bank where it remains today.
The bakers of breads that I grew up with are all gone. As I lived right behind the Cablish Sunbeam
Bakery, that's what I grew up on. People on the West Side probably are more Purity Maid bread,
also gone now. (Purity bought out Cablish) Butter Krust must have been a wildly popular bread
because they were in business for a long long time. It's amazing to me that not one survived after
all those years...