The Madison Iron Works, 129 W. 29th St., New York, 2010
The Madison Iron Works were founded ca. 1906 and were established at 449-453 East 120th St. (near Pleasant Ave.) in 1909. The original owners were Henry Gurian (1881?-1966) and Herman Schmith (1874-1961).
Henry Gurian's World War II draft registration in 1942 states that he was born 15 Oct. 1881 in Minsk, Russia. An earlier draft registration (World War I, in 1918) gave his birth date as 2 Oct. 1880. To confuse matters further Gurian's naturalization record states that he was born 2 July 1883. His naturalization date was 26 Sept. 1906, when he lived at 3778 Park Ave., Bronx, NY. He arrived in the U. S. at the port of New York 26 April 1896. He is recorded in the three successive U. S. Census reports of 1910, 1920 and 1930. In 1910 he identified his occupation as "Iron Works, Iron Shop." In 1920 this was "Contractor, Iron Works." And in 1930 his occupation was "Real Estate, Own Business." His partnership with Herman Schmith at the Madison Iron Works seems to have lasted only about 5 years. Around 1911/12 Gurian started his own foundry, called the Claremont Iron Works. The Claremont Iron Works were located originally at 12 W. 143rd St., then moved in 1922 to 770 Barry St. in the Bronx. This business seems to have failed with the onset of the Great Depression (1929).
Herman Schmith's World War II draft registration in 1942 states that he was born 1 August 1882 in Vilna, Russia. An earlier draft registration (World War I, in 1918), however, gave his birth date as 1 August 1874! The earlier date is confirmed by Schmith's naturalization petition filed 9 April 1908. This petition gives the birth date as 15 August 1874, and the place of birth seems to read "Subolach, Russia." He emigrated from Hamburg 17 April 1900 on the Fürst Bismarck, and arrived in the port of New York 24 April 1900. In 1908 Schmith lived at 113 E. 126th St., Manhattan. His naturalization petition was witnessed by Henry Gurian, iron worker, living at 341 E. 124th St. Schmith is recorded in the three U. S. Census reports of 1910, 1920 and 1930. In 1910 he identified his occupation as "Iron Worker." In 1920 this was "Iron Work, Own Business." In 1930 he was "President, Iron Wks."
After Gurian's departure in 1911/12, Herman Schmith took as a new partner, Herman Hartman (1874-1942). Herman Hartman appears in the three U. S. Census reports from 1910 to 1930. He may also be the Herman Hartman in the 1900 U. S. Census who boarded at 636 9th Ave., Manhattan. If so, he was 25 years old at the time, born July, 1874, in Hungary, immigrated 1895, and he identified his occupation as "Lock-Smith." In 1910 he was an iron worker and lived at 504 E. 120th St., Manhattan. For reasons unknown, his record in the 1920 census gives his occupation as "None." (Other listings indicate that he was actively engaged at the Madison Iron Works in 1920.) In 1930 he lived in New Rochelle, NY, and was a "Contractor, Iron."
The New York State Registry of Factories, 1913, recorded "Madison iron Works, 449 East 120th St., Ornamental and architectural iron work." At that time they employed a total of 125 people, 111 men in the shop and 14 office staff.
The Madison Iron Works were located at 449-453 E. 120th St. from 1909 to 1925. Henry Gurian's Claremont Iron Works were in business approximately 1911 to 1929.
Other coal chute covers by the Madison Iron Works are these square ones found at:
101 E. 75th St.
115 E. 82nd St.
Copyright (c) 2011 Walter Grutchfield