King Street was originally laid out as part of a large survey in the southeast part of the city developed by John Arnold and James Lukin Robinson in 1853-55. Arnold and Robinson were the first of the big-time land developers to come to Stratford, and they chose to bring with them some of the most important streets of Toronto. In the 1850s, King Street in Toronto was nearing the pinnacle of its importance.The influence of the British Royal family was reflected in some of the main streets in Toronto and King Street was atop the list. By Stanford Dingman
Globe-Wernicke Co. Ltd., 1905
The Globe-Wernicke Furniture Co.
In the first half of the 20th century, Stratford was home to Canada’s largest furniture industry. In those days, about half the city's workforce was employed by the Grand Trunk and Canadian National railways. About 25 per cent of the remaining workers were with the furniture companies. During the 1920s, almost one-sixth of all furniture produced in Canada was made in Stratford. Some of that success can be attributed to the city's geographic location and its railway connections. Stratford companies could ship their goods far and wide by rail in up to six directions. The most important of those were the lines northeast to Toronto and Montreal, east to Buffalo, and southwest to Chicago. Consequently, Stratford-made furniture was sold all over North America. Source: Stratford Furniture Industry Visit Stratford
One of the largest of the Stratford furniture factories was Globe-Wernicke Co. Ltd., which became Preston-Noelting in 1926 (see Preston Street).
In 1903, the Globe-Wernicke company, of Cincinnati, Ohio, bought four acres of land in Stratford’s east end, at 163 King St., and on them built a three-storey factory that boasted 45,000 square feet of work space.
In 1903, at the height of Stratford’s booming furniture industry, Globe Wernicke was a good fit for Stratford. The company produced “elastic bookcases,” a cutting-edge modular furniture design ahead of its time. At one point, the company had captured 75 per cent the Canadian market for bookcases.
The factory, itself, was ahead its time, the first building in Stratford to install a firefighting sprinkler system. While common to find in today’s buildings, in the early 1900s the McGuire Sprinkling System was regarded as one of the most up-to-date yet invented.
Steel fire doors throughout the building were held open by counterweights connected by a chain. On the chain was a "fire link" made of soft metal with a low melting point. In the heat created by a fire, the link was designed to melt and release the counterweights. The door, then, would roll down the sloped track and close, which would slow the spread of the fire.
In 1926, after experiencing some financial difficulties, Globe Wernicke sold its Stratford operation to the Preston family. Under the name of Preston-Noelting Ltd., the company continued with furniture lines but added business stationery to its offerings. To survive during the Depression, the company built other unusual items, such as chicken incubators and carpet sweepers.
After a partnership split, Preston-Noelting Ltd. became Prestonia and, after the Second World War, focused on the production of office stationery when office furniture made of metal flooded the market. Prestonia operated in the building until the early 1990s.
In 2010, Factory 163, a creative collaborative took over the building to provide a mixed-use space to be inventive while surrounded with like-minded individuals. It's all geared towards the creative industry, with individuals supporting innovative ideas, and co-creating a living installation. Source: Factory 163
Off the Wall is also established in the building. It engages some of North America's finest backstage theatre artists to instruct and inspire learners with workshops that teach students how to construct and paint impressive sets, build props ranging from faux food to flicker candles, create breath-taking masks, produce scenic art drops and generate special makeup effects.
163 King St. in 2022 Photo Fred Gonder
Preston Noelting Ltd. employees in 1944
The Glass Guild
Glass Guild, 175 King St.
Charles A. Moore, Stratford's "unofficial ambassador," 1911
Five-year-old Charles Moore with Thomas Bell, his maternal grandfather, in 1893.
Stratford Manufacturing Co. at the end of College Street, 1911
Charles Moore, a long life well lived
Charles Alexander Moore was born in Stratford on March 04, 1888 to William Moore and Elizabeth Bell. He attended the Stratford Collegiate and then a business college. After graduation, he worked as a manager for the Stratford Manufacturing Co. He and an uncle eventually bought the plant, located on College Street, and changed the name to Moore-Bell Ltd. Their company manufactured a full line of ladders, veranda and lawn furniture, and folding chairs and tables. With sales across Canada, the company shipped on a dedicated rail line, that ran to the building from the east, across King Street. During its best years, the company employee list was north of 150.
Ladders and chairs leaving King Street, 1908
Roof on the original building on College Street collapes from fiure damage, Sept. 16, 1948.
The city's first motorized pumper (1923 model) still working hard at the fire on College Street, Sept. 16,1948
Charles Moore turns 105 on March 4, 1993
217 Water St. 1915 Edwardian Classic home