Hallett & Davis Piano Factory and Keystone Camera Company

No. 1308 Hallet & Davis piano factory, circa 1910.

The Hallet, Davis & Company was one of the early well-known American piano makers.  The firm was originally established as “Brown & Hallet” in 1835, and their factory was located on Washington Street in Boston. In 1843, Brown retired and George Davis joined the firm. Davis retired in about 1847, and Hallet became part of “Hallet, Cumston & Allen.” Allen resigned from the firm, and in 1850 he formed the “Brown & Allen Piano Company”. With Allen gone, “Hallet & Cumston” formed a partnership, building pianos under both the Hallet & Davis and the Hallet & Cumston names.  In about 1879, the business was incorporated as Hallet, Davis & Company and the Hallet & Cumston name was dropped.

In the early 1900s, the company planned for a new manufacturing building to be located in Dorchester next to the Neponset River.

The building permit to construct the building was granted to Hallet & Davis Piano Co. in 1910.  The cost for construction of the reinforced concrete building was estimated by the Boston Globe to be between $500,000 and $600,000. The Globe article on April 18, 1910, reported: The building will be on a branch of the New York, New Haven & Hartford railroad, and the Hallet & Davis piano company has a spur track of more than 1000 feet in length on its own property there.  It will also have fine dock facilities, where coal and other supplies may be brought by vessel and unloaded upon its own land.

When they applied to add a stable to the property in 1921, one of the conditions of the permit approval was that the manure pits in connection with stables were prohibited.  In 1927 the Geo. Steck Co., also a piano company, applied to build a new kiln.  In 1939 the building was owned by the Chickering piano company.  The Keystone Camera Company  seems to have come on the scene in the 1940s,and the building has since been known as the Keystone Building.  The Library of Congress has photographs of the Keystone operations during World War II, when machines for the production of metal toys and motion picture projectors were converted to making radio filter boxes for jeeps and tanks. In 1977 a permit application was approved to convert the manufacturing facility into 223 units of housing.


Posted on

May 12, 2020