Colonial Laundry

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This smoke stack reading Colonial Laundry rises behind a one-story industrial building at 10-14 Lexington Ave., Brooklyn. This is the south side of Lexington Ave., a few feet east of Grand Ave. Colonial Laundry was listed in Brooklyn telephone directories at 16 Lexington Ave. from 1917 to 1951. The smaller building at 16-18 Lexington Ave. probably served as offices for the company.

Incorporation of Colonial Laundry was announced in Cleaning and Dyeing World, March, 1916, pg. 809, "New York, Brooklyn - The Colonial Laundry, Inc.; to do a general dry cleaning and dyeing business, etc.; capital stock, $5,000. Incorporators: E. R. Rayher and others."

E. R. Rayher, one of the incorporators, might have been Edward Richard Rayher (1883-1958), a New York lawyer, who otherwise probably had no connection with the Colonial Laundry.

In 1934 the Colonial Laundry was one of two Brooklyn laundries cited by the city for failure to pay water taxes: "For the first time in the history of labor conflicts in this city, settlement of a strike was brought about yesterday as a result of pressure exerted by the city through its tax machinery. Mayor LaGuardia ordered on Saturday that the water supply be cut off from the Colonial Laundry, 16 Lexington Avenue, and the Sunshine Laundry, 824 Lexington Avenue, both in Brooklyn, for tax arrears of several years. The first-mentioned company owed the city $20,000 and the second $17,000. About 500 employes in both laundries have been on strike for seven weeks in an effort to enforce payment of the State minimum wage of 31 cents an hour. Some of the workers, according to Mrs. Elinore M. Herrick, acting chairman of the Regional Labor Board, have been getting as low as 16 cents an hour. Mrs. Herrick had sought in vain to prevail upon the laundries to comply with the wage law. An appeal to Mayor LaGuardia to intervene resulted in his order that the two laundries make good at once their back taxes. Upon their failure to do so he ordered their water supply discontinued. Although the Mayor did not say his action was prompted by the labor policy of the laundries, he admitted this was a factor. Yesterday representatives of the laundries met with Ben Golden, executive secretary of the Labor Board, and agreed to comply with the wage demands of the strikers, conditional upon immediate calling off the strike by the International Laundry Workers Union, Local 135. In addition to complying with the minimum wage law the laundries agreed also to discharge all strike-breakers..." - New York Times, 12 Feb. 1934.

This story was followed a day later by: "The Colonial Laundry in Brooklyn sent the Mayor a check for $2,000 yesterday to apply to its unpaid arrears of $20,000... Employees of the Colonial and the Sunshine Laundry, the other delinquent, have been on strike because neither plant paid the minimum wage fixed by the State Labor Board. Both plants, however, have agreed to pay a 31-cent-an-hour minimum beginning today... The Colonial plant is at 16 Lexington Avenue and the Sunshine is at 824 Lexington Avenue." - New York Times, 13 Feb. 1934.

Copyright © 2014 Walter Grutchfield