This collection includes material related to the Geneva Optical Company, Standard Optical Company, and Shuron Optical as the companies evolved from the AL Smith & Co Spectacle Manufacturers.
Scope and Content:
This collection encompasses the time period from when Andrew Smith founded his company in 1873 through when the final Shuron buildings were demolished in 1974. Additional photographs that are undated show fire departments fighting a fire in the buildings. The materials include photographs of the building complex and employees during the 20th century, ephemera from all three company names, publications, newsletters, and correspondence.
Biographical / Historical:
In 1873 Andrew L. Smith opened a small concern on Linden Street. Two years later Smith was joined by William Smith, Joshua I. Maxwell, William Hall, Phineas Prouty, Jr., Corydon Wheat and William H. Smith and incorporated the Geneva Optical Company, with the object of “manufacture, buying and selling of spectacles and other optical goods and merchandise pertaining thereto.”
In 1892, the owners entered an agreement with the W. Smith Company for the construction of a factory on Lyceum Street. One year later, 1893, the directors agreed to sell to James E. Brown and Theodore J. Smith, their “name, good will, and retail business” which included all items contained in the Linden Street office and any items bearing the name of the Geneva Optical Company that were contained in the factory.
This transaction appears to have separated the retail portion of the business from the manufacturing aspect. Standard Optical Company was incorporated in the same year, for the purpose of the “manufacture and sale of spectacles, eyeglasses and other optical goods as may be expedient…” A 1907 newspaper article reports that the company was making its own lenses, selling optical machinery as well as optical goods and boasted 350 employees. At its height, the company employed over 800 workers.
After the merging of several businesses in 1925, the name of the company changed to Shur-on Optical Company. In the late 1950s, Shur-on was sold to first one owner, and then another, Textron. In December 1960, Textron announced that the lens-making department would be moved to South Carolina. By April 1961 all major lens-manufacturing operations ceased and in 1969 the company departed completely from Geneva. In 1974, the Shur-On Buildings on Lyceum Street fell to bulldozers.
Materials are arranged according to the company name and by individual donors who contributed large portions of material including Warren Hay and Richard Miller who were employees at Shuron.
Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: a Content Standard
In collections storage is a variety of eyewear manufactured in Geneva factories. Access is limited.
An oral history with Warren Hay can be found in the A/V Collection. Access is on-site digital only.