Shriver's Iron Foundry

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Shriver's Iron Foundry
333 E. 56th St.
New York

In 1862 IRS assessed Thomas Shriver & Co., 56th St. & 12th Ave., taxes amounting to $81.59. The tax was based on iron castings valued at $2719.55 (the tax rate was 3% of assessed value). Thomas Shriver was born in Union Mills, Carroll County, Maryland, 2 Sep. 1789, and died in Cumberland, Allegany County, Maryland, 19 Aug. 1879, aged 89 years, 11 months and 17 days (Shriver and Roberts family trees on

Thomas Shriver (1789-1879) is the subject of an extensive article in A History of American Manufactures from 1608 to 1860..., by John Leander Bishop, et. al., vol. II, 3rd edition, 1868. Some pertinent facts from this article are, "He was born September 2d, 1789, near Westminster, in the State of Maryland, and is a descendant of a family of ingenious and self-reliant men... He early became acquainted with the art and mystery of surveying lands, and was employed in this pursuit before he had attained his majority... After he had attained his majority, he embarked in mercantile pursuits, and while so engaged at Sandy Mount in Maryland, about the year 1819, he invented the Elliptic Spring for wagons, which has attained universal popularity not only in this country, but in Europe... Before he was of age, Mr. Shriver invented a Tape and subsequently a Fringe Loom, and used the latter during the war of 1812, when commanding a Rifle volunteer corps, in weaving fringe to ornament the hunting shirts which were the principal uniform of the militia of that time. About 1834, he originated 'the Brake' or Retarder, which was first applied to stage coaches in crossing the Allegheny Mountains, and is now in use on locomotives, cars, and nearly every vehicle requiring a governing power... ... he removed to Cumberland, which for many years was his home, and of which he was the first Mayor. While here, in association with an uncle, he superintended the construction of the Great National Road across the Alleghenies, an enterprise that had a most important influence in developing the resources of the West... After the completion of this undertaking, gigantic for the times, Mr. Shriver was appointed by the United States Government its Superintendent, a position that he held for six years... ... he removed to Philadelphia, where he became proprietor of one of the prominent omnibus lines until the construction of street railways superseded that once popular method of conveyance. He then removed to New York, and, in association with his son, Walter Shriver, established a foundry for the production of fine castings, especially piano forte plates..." (This publication is available on google books.)

Thomas Shriver was recorded in the 1850 U. S. Census living in Cumberland, Maryland. He was 65 years old, and his occupation was "mayor." His son, Walter Shriver, age 21, was also part of the household. In the 1870 U. S. Census Thomas Shriver, age 78, lived at 414 E. 56th St., New York, one block east of the foundry at 333 E. 56th.

Shriver's Foundry was located on E. 56th St. in the block between 1st Ave. and 2nd Ave. from around 1860 until 1906. In April 1906 The Music Trade Review, vol. 42, no. 15, 14 April 1906, pg. 39, reported the demise of this property: "With a frontage of 275 feet in the north side of Fifty-sixth street, between First and Second avenues, the old Shriver iron foundry was sold yesterday by the estate of T. Shriver to Hillman & Golding. There are several plate foundries on the plot, which comprises a total of fifteen lots. More than $200,000 was the selling price. The sale marks the passing of an East Side business landmark."

This ad for T. Shriver & Co. appeared in Trow's New York City Directory, 1876. It advertises one of the foundry's specialties: iron plates for pianos.

On Thomas Shriver's death in 1879, his son, Walter Shriver (1827-1902), assumed ownership of the foundry. Walter Shriver is documented in 5 U. S. Census reports from 1850 to 1900. In 1850 he lived with his father in Cumberland, Maryland. In 1860 he lived in Baltimore, Maryland, with his wife, Ada, a son, Frank, age 2, and a brother, Henry Shriver. In 1870 he lived in New York City with his wife, Ada, and two small children, Amy, age 7, and Henry, age 3. In 1880 the family lived at 165 E. 71st St., New York. Amy was now 18 and Henry, now called Harry, was 14. In 1900 Walter and Ada Shriver lived at 686 Park Ave. Directories indicate that Ada Shriver continued to live at this address until 1914.

On Walter Shiver's death in 1902, the following brief notice appeared in the New York Times, 7 Aug. 1902, "Shriver - At Monmouth Beach, N. J., on Tuesday, Aug. 5, 1902, Walter Shriver. Funeral services at Monmouth Beach, N. J., on Friday, Aug. 8, at 12 o'clock."

The following is quoted from an 1888 document available at, "WALTER SHRIVER was, in early life, engaged with his brother Alfred in business at Cumberland. He subsequently married and located in New York, where he was associated with his father in business -- firm style Thomas Shriver & Company, founders. Since his father's death he has continued the business, and has been eminently successful in its management, the firm rating among the first of its class in prominence and financial stability."

During his life Walter Shriver secured several patents, including "Improvement in Copying-Presses, &c." (patent 48,217 dated 13 June 1865), "Reservoir Damping-Brush" (patent 65,290 dated 28 May 1867), and "Improvement in Copying-Press Beds" (patent 130,320 dated 6 August 1872). All of these relate to the copying press, which was another of the Shriver Foundry specialties. The website defines a copying press as "A machine for speedily producing a facsimile copy of any manuscript recently written. The method is to place over the letter a sheet of thin damp paper, and subject them both to the action of the press, by which means a portion of the ink is transferred from the manuscript to the damp paper." An illustration of Shriver's Reservoir Damping-Brush can be found in the digital collections of The Library Company of Philadelphia.

This ad for T. Shriver & Co. appeared in Trow's New York City Directory, 1869. It mentions the copying presses and Shriver's damping brush. Other Shriver ads (from Trow, 1890) advertised the copying presses and iron castings of all kinds.

On Walter Shriver's death in 1902, his son, Harry Tower Shriver (1866-1939) took over the business. Harry T. Shriver oversaw the removal of T. Shriver & Co. from New York to Harrison, New Jersey. (This ad from 1920 gives the address in Harrison as 858 Hamilton St.) For a short period (1916 to 1922) the company was listed in the Manhattan telephone directory at 30 Church St., where they maintained offices. In these listings the company business was described as "filter presses." A finding aid to trade catalogs at Rutgers University Libraries lists "Harrison, N.J.: T. Shriver & Co., 1923. Manufacturers of large-scale filtration machinery." The McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms (2003) defines a filter press as, "A metal frame on which iron plates are suspended and pressed together by a screw device; liquid to be filtered is pumped into canvas bags between the plates, and the screw is tightened so that pressure is furnished for filtration."

On Harry Shiver's death in 1939, the following brief notice appeared in the New York Times, 8 Jan. 1939, "Shriver - Harry T., in his seventy-second year, in Baltimore, Md., Friday, Jan. 6, beloved father of Ruth Shriver Farrelly. Interment, private, on Monday, Greenwood Cemetery."

The Shriver grave site in Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, consists of an elegant monument in Section 151, Lot 17198 (just at the corner of Mahonia and Landscape paths) (click for image). The four faces are inscribed as follows:

  1. Walter Shriver 1827 - 1902 / Ada Clare Tower / His Wife / 1832 - 1915
  2. Frank T. Shriver 1858 - 1867
  3. Harry T. Shriver 1866 - 1939
  4. A. J. I. Hanchet-Taylor 1893 - 1939 / Ruth Salisbury Shriver / His Wife / 1903 - 1990

Harry T. Shriver's wife, Maude Grosvenor Salisbury (1872?-1929), is also buried in Green-Wood Cemetery, but not at the Shriver grave site. She is buried in the Salisbury plot, and is probably represented only by this simple headstone reading M.S.S.

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