The Thatcher Furnace Company was born with the development of the “Tubular Furnace” by John M. Thatcher in 1850. For the majority of the company’s early life, its main offices were in various locations throughout New York City, and its main foundry was located in Newark, NJ. By the mid-twentieth century, the much larger plant in Garwood, NJ, had become the primary base of manufacturing and administrative operations.
In the years immediately following the Civil War, John Haviland became an associate of the company, and it operated briefly as Thatcher and Haviland. After John M. Thatcher’s son, L.M. Thatcher, joined the firm, the company continued as the Thatcher Heating Company. With the retirement of John M. Thatcher in 1890, the name changed once again to the Thatcher Furnace Company. At this time, the company entered a period of growth overseen by Charles O. Lyon as President, Edward Benedict as Treasurer and Manager of Manufacturing, and L.M. Thatcher as Secretary. In addition to the “Tubular Furnace,” the company began producing kitchen ranges, radiators, and steam and water boilers. In 1906, the company established a larger plant in Garwood, NJ, to supplement their original foundry in Newark, NJ. The company also established an office and warehouse in Chicago in 1907, managed by Richard C. Cook. Thatcher later opened another branch in Boston. In 1925, the name of the company was modified to the Thatcher Company in order to more accurately reflect its diverse product line, but with reorganization in 1937, the previous company name was resumed.
The Thatcher Furnace Company struggled during the Great Depression, as the number of new dwelling units in the country decreased dramatically, and the demand for heating equipment dropped accordingly. As the economy improved, the company followed trends in automatic heating and developed gas and oil-fired equipment. Products began to feature sheet steel construction instead of molded iron. During World War II, the full facilities of the company’s plants were employed in producing ammunition lockers, bomb-noses for incendiaries, incendiary-bomb cluster weights, steel flanges, masts, other boat parts, and special castings. Only a minimum of essential repair parts was produced for its civilian clientele.
Before closing in 1968, the company had been purchased first by the Holland Furnace Company and later by the Crane Company, but it retained its name throughout these changes.