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Fill The Spot: 150 Howard Street

Alexander & Miner Lumber Co. closed in 2006 after nearly a century in New London

Although I had passed by this former lumber business on Howard Street before, I hadn't realized how extensive it was. I noticed several nearby buildings with signs from Bondi Commercial, a Salem real estate company, and snapped photos of them as well for other Fill The Spot columns. It wasn't until I checked the listing that I realized the buildings were all part of one parcel, waiting for someone with big plans and a big wallet to come along.

The business was partially responsible for New London's geography looking the way it does today. Levi Quincy Raymond first became involved in the lumber business in 1888 and in 1910 built a mill on Moore Ave. and Shaw Street. He later joined Frank J. Alexander, who had worked in farming, to form the Raymond & Alexander Lumber Company in 1914.

The men purchased the Howard Street site, formerly the Hopkins and Chapin plant, and had to do extensive work to reclaim the land from under the water of Shaw's Cove. This required filling in land on Hamilton Street and Howard Street before building their offices and plant. The Miner of the reconstituted company was William P. Miner, who purchased the company with George A. Azars and Prentice L. Alexander in 1939 after the company had some difficulties in weathering the Great Depression.

The Miner & Alexander name remained after another trio of workers purchased the company from Miner in 1963. Business at the lumberyard again faced a crunch under competition from other lumberyards and big box stores, and the possibility of selling the property to the New London Development Corporation evaporated in the ensuing turmoil over the use of eminent domain and ultimate collapse of development plans in the Fort Trumbull area. The business closed in 2006.

Several buildings of in various states of repair or disrepair are located between 77 and 150 Howard Street and amount to a total of 50,000 square feet. They're located on 3.62 acres and surround a single dwelling on Hamilton Street which is privately owned. The company lists the benefits as including deep water piers, railroad access, and the benefits of being in both a city and state enterprise zone as well as a foreign trade zone. All yours for the asking price of $1,950,000.

What do you think would be a good development for this site? Let us know in the comments.

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Clark van der Lyke October 13, 2012 at 06:05 PM
Gee, what a great lumber yard this would make. A place where the employees actually had experience and the knowledge to guide buyers in the selection of sizes, grade and types of lumber and trim. A place where if you asked an employee a question they would not always answer "I don't know, whatever is on the shelf is what we got." A place where they often took as much pride in a homeowners project as the homeowner and actually were a help in the process. A place where they actually had lumber that was straight and even sometimes free of knots and splits. I guess we don't want places like that anymore. Perhaps it could be another used car lot...or condos, we need more condos.
David Irons October 14, 2012 at 01:53 PM
I too will join i with those mourning the loss of our real lumber yards and hardware stores. Gone are those such as Miner & Alexander, Dart & Bogue and others. Gone are Gruskin Hardware, Schneider, Waterford, Niantic and other real hardware stores. Stores where, as noted above, you could talk to those who actually knew what they had under their roof and what was available for order. People who actually knew how to use the products they sold and gladly guided you with their knowledge. Alas, today, price and quick availability are all that matter to many shoppers. If it looks pretty and doesn't cost too much, who care if it will last? Who cares if it will work? Look how pretty it is and look at how much I saved. Oh, and it's available in 73 other colors, if you wish.

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