Swasey, Ambrose, 1846-1937

Alternative names
Birth 1846-12-19
Death 1937-06-15

Biographical notes:

Engineer and business leader, of Cleveland, Ohio. He was a co-founder of the Warner & Swasey machine tool company.

From the description of Correspondence, 1931. (Rhinelander District Library). WorldCat record id: 17974937

click here to view the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History entry for Ambrose Swasey

click here to view the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History entry for Worcester Warner

click here to view the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History entry for the Warner and Swasey Company

The Warner and Swasey Company (f. 1881) was a leading manufacturer of machine tools, with a worldwide reputation for its telescopes and precision instruments. The machine tool shop of former New England merchants Worcester R. Warner (1846-1929) and Ambrose Swasey (1846-1937), located on Carnegie Avenue near East 55th Street in Cleveland, Ohio, initially manufactured a variety of types tools but eventually specialized in turret lathes and telescopes. By 1886 the firm had gained international fame for a telescope built for the Lick Conservatory in California, leading to contracts from the United States Naval Observatory and the Yerkes Observatory in Wisconsin. Although much of the Warner and Swasey Company's fame came from its astronomical instruments, most of its profits came from its machine tool division. After incorporation in 1900, the company increased its emphasis on turret lathes, introducing several new types and becoming the world's leading producer by 1928. The Carnegie Avenue plant in Cleveland expanded several times, enabling the firm to produce additional optical equipment such as panoramic sights and binoculars. The firm became a public company in 1940 and began gradually withdrawing from the telescope business to diversify into the textile machinery, construction equipment, and electronics industries. By 1965, it employed 2,000 people and had moved several plant operations to the Cleveland suburb of Solon, Ohio, while establishing its headquarters in the University Circle neighborhood of Cleveland. In 1980 Bendix Corporation purchased the operation, closing several of the plants and implementing large-scale layoffs in Cleveland. A series of corporate purchases eventually resulted in the sale of Warner and Swasey to the Michigan machinery firm of Cross and Trecker in 1984.

From the guide to the Ambrose Swasey Correspondence, 1931, (Western Reserve Historical Society)


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