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Banister Shoe Company Collection

 Collection
Identifier: MG Nwk Banister-(Main)
This collection consists of records from the James A. Banister Shoe Company of Newark, NJ from 1890-1935, as well as research on the company from 2016

Dates

  • 1890 - 1935
  • 2016 - 2019

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers wishing to publish reproduce, or reprint materials from this collection must obtain permission.

Extent

.42 Linear Feet (1 Hollinger box)

Biographical / Historical

Contributing author: Timothy J. Crist

The Banister Shoe Company existed in Newark from 1844 until 1934, when it moved out of Newark after a sale to Stetson Shoe Company. The history of the company begins in 1844, when Isaac Banister began manufacturing shoes in Newark. In 1851, his son James A. joined his father in the business, Banister & Son. They opened a shop at 252 Washington Street, with an output of 60 pairs of shoes daily. Like his father, James was considered an expert cutter. By 1856, the business name was “James A. Banister & Company”, though it changed several times in the next few years. In 1865, James A. Banister formed a partnership with Lyman S. Tichenor, conducting business as Banister & Tichenor at 218 and 220 Market Street. By 1874, they employed 200 people with a weekly payroll of $2,800, and annual production value of $300,000.

After Tichenor’s death in 1881, Banister continued as a sole proprietor and the company name was changed to James A. Banister Co. In 1884, a fire destroyed the Market Street factory, which was rebuilt on the same site in three months. In 1888, Banister built a new 4-story brick factory, 280 feet long with a frontage of 35 feet, at 185-187 Washington St. In 1892, James A. Banister formed a stock company, James A. Banister Shoes, with capital of $100,000.

James A. Banister was active in civic, religious, and commercial enterprises in Newark. He was a Director of the YMCA from 1890; Vice President in 1894; and President from 1895 to 1906. He was a vestryman at the Roseville M.E. Church, a member of the Board of Trade, and a director of the Fairmount Cemetery Association. He was also a director of the National Newark Banking Co., Howard Savings Institution, and the American Insurance Company. Banister shoes took the grand prizes at the Vienna, New Orleans, Chicago, Paris, Buffalo, St. Louis, and Portland expositions.

James A. Banister died on February 4, 1906 and his sons succeeded him in the business. At the time of the death of James A. Banister, the Banister Shoe Company had an output of 1200 pairs daily and employed 500 people.

James B. Banister was president of the company from 1906-1924. In 1915, the company built a new factory along the Morris Canal at 370-386 Orange Street, at the corner of First Street. This archive includes two copies of a photo taken in August 1915 during the construction of the building.

More information on the Banister Company can be found here: http://www.nj.gov/dep/hpo/1identify/nr_nomntns_03_12_2015_srb_drafts/Banister%20Shoe%20F actory-Nomination_combined-WEB.pdf and https://www.banistershoes.org/

When James B. retired, Arthur C. Banister took over as company president. A few of the items in this collection have the initials “A.C.B.” on them, presumably Arthur C. Banister. In 1928, Frederick E. Young became president of the company.

The exact date of the company’s dissolution and sale to Stetson is unclear. The 1930 Princeton Alumni Weekly notes the “voluntary dissolution” of the James A. Bannister Company. However, the 1935 Banister shoe catalogue states that the company operated in Newark until May 1, 1934. A National Historic Register application for the factory site gives the formal dissolution date of the company as 1935. It is clear that by 1935 the company was operating in South Weymouth, Massachusetts and had left Newark.

Banister Shoes continued to be created and marketed (outside of Newark) until the early 1970s. The Orange Street factory building, used by Banister Shoes, is still standing today. It has long been vacant but, as of summer 2016, renovations appear to be underway.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donation of the Newark History Society, 2016

Related Materials

Books at the Newark Public Library with information on the Banister Company and family include:  Ford, William F. “The industrial interests of Newark, N. J.”.  Gasser, Charles Albert. “Men of Newark”.  Leary, Peter J. “Newark N.J., Illustrated”.  Newark, N.J. Industrial Directories.

Separated Materials

The following non-Banister materials were moved to MG Nwk Misc I to J [Industry] in folder labelled “Leather Industry":  Leather sample swatches, not related to Banister Shoes, but two with Newark interest-- Dreher Leather Manufacturing Corporation, 42 Garden Street, Newark, NJ 07105, undated but 1970s? (sample card with 7 samples of “lining pigskins”)  Dreher, spring and summer 1971 (samples of “men’s brushed pig”; 14 samples in different colors)  Unidentified piece of leather labelled “Lizard Poly Calf Black” The following item was donated, upon suggestion of the Newark History Society, to the United States Golf Association Museum:  Lotus, Ltd. “Veldtschrem Waterproof” golf shoe catalogue, Stafford, England (undated, but 1920s)
Author
Beth Zak-Cohen
Date
2016

Repository Details

Part of the Charles F. Cummings New Jersey Information Center, Newark Public Library Repository

Contact:
3rd Floor
Newark Public Library
5 Washington St.
Newark NJ 07102 United States
973-733-7775