San Francisco County







GLOBE BRASS AND BELL FOUNDRY, – Of the numerous manufactories on the Pacific coast there is perhaps none which has an humbler beginning, or which has been built up to a high standard of prominence and prosperity among the institutions of its class so purely upon the industry, energy and genius of its founders, as the Globe Brass and Bell Foundry, established and owned by Messrs. Louis De Rome and Neil C. Whyte, one a San Franciscan from four years of age, the other a native son. They both grew to manhood and learned their trade in the Pacific metropolis, Mr. De Rome being the pioneer brass founder in business who learned the trade on this coast. Mr. Whyte is a practical machinist. In 1880 they entered into partnership, and without capital other than brains, energy and mechanical skill, started the nucleus of the above foundry, in the lower store of John Center’s windmill house, on Sixteenth street, their entire premises being about twenty-five feet square. Their industry, energy and skill soon placed them on the road to prosperity; and at the end of the first year they decided to move down town, renting a small shop about 30 x 40 feet, at 292 Howard street. The rapid growth of business necessitated several enlargements during the next two years, and at the end of that time the firm leased an L to the same building, which fronted on Beale street, at No. 137. Here they continued with a steady increase of business, until 1888, when the great fire which swept down Beale street, and through to the bay, opened up an opportunity for them to lease the site upon which the Globe Brass and Bell Foundry is now situated. Securing a long lease of the ground at 126 and 128 Main street, the proprietors erected a substantial brick building with three stories and basement, 45 10/12 x 137 ½ feet. The front is devoted to office and machine shop, the rear to the brass and bell foundry.

      Possessing a thorough knowledge of the requirements of their business, they built and equipped the foundry in the best manner, and have the finest and most complete brass foundry on this coast. They are importers of phosphor bronze and ingot metals, and they manufacture all kinds of castings, copper, bronze, brass, zinc, white metal, aluminum bronze, magnesia bronze, phosphor bronze, gun-metal, church and steamboat bells and gongs, brass work for cars and ships, and do a general jobbing, making a specialty of manufacturing propellers and other heavy castings. The heaviest and most difficult bronze and brass work ever produced west of the Rocky mountains have been turned out by the Globe foundry. Among the most important of these may be mentioned twin propellers for the Fulton Iron Works, weighing 7,000 pounds each; a bronze propeller for the Union Iron Works, of 9,000 pounds, made in sections; twenty pumps of gun-metal for the coast-defense vessel Monterey and cruisers aggregating 60,000 pounds; condenser castings for Cruiser No. 6, the composition being made after the Government formula of naval brass. For this work the shop was especially equipped, as these are the largest condensers ever made on the Pacific coast; twenty-seven large bronze lamp-posts for the new City Hall, San Francisco, weighing 800 pounds each. The firm cast the bell on San Miguel Mission, in San Luis Obispo county, which weighs 2,000 pounds, and is pronounced one of the finest-toned bells in the State. This bell was cast in mold swept up, without a pattern, by Mr. De Rome, in August, 1888, and took the place of two smaller bells, one of them made in 1768, and the other in 1818, the latter having been molded in California. They have just completed a bell for the San Jose fire department weighing 3,000 pounds. For the San Francisco Tool Company they made 600 set of castings of the first water-meters used on the Pacific coast. In car-metal work and trimmings they are pioneer manufacturers. They are about casting a bronze bust of James Lick, for the Academy of Science building, on Market street. The bust was designed by F. M. Wells, sculptor.

      This firm has made some of the brass and bronze work for every Government steel cruiser that has been built at San Francisco by the Union Iron Works, a fact which they refer to with patriotic pride. They have also had a hand in making the great cable railway system of San Francisco a success. When steel grip frames for the Market street line had been tried and proved a failure, Mr. De Rome came to the rescue, and from a bronze composition of his own origin manufactured grip frames which stood the test, and were put into general use. The steamer Humboldt had experienced much difficulty with the breaking of her propeller blades, being unable to get one to stand. On being applied to they made a propeller of their bronze composition which proved successful in every respect, and is now in use, having stood the strain of a knot or two higher speed than the vessel had hitherto run.

      Louis De Rome was born in Buffalo, News York, in 1854; came with his parents to California in 1858; was reared, educated and learned his trade as a brass molder in San Francisco. Possessing a mechanical and inventive mind, he soon attained great proficiency in his art, and filled the position of head brass molder in the Garratt Brass Works for eight years before establishing the Globe Brass and Bell Foundry, of which he is the practical business manager. He is recognized by Manufacturers as standing at the head as a brass founder.

      He was married in San Francisco, April 8, 1886, to Birdella Harris, a native of Warren county, New Jersey, stepdaughter of Mr. M. De Witt, of the well-known San Francisco grocery firm of Cluff and De Witt. Mr. and Mrs. De Rome have had two children, a daughter and son, the former deceased, the latter a boy of great promise. Mr. De Rome resides at 600 Oak street, San Francisco, with homestead at Golden Gate, Alameda county.

      Neil C. Whyte was born in San Francisco in 1852, his parents being among the early pioneers and having married in the city. After attending the city schools he learned the trade of machinist with the Pacific Iron Works, where he remained thirteen years, becoming foreman of the shaping department. With the organization of the firm of Whyte & De Rome, he became the financial manager of the firm, besides looking after the machine department, positions for which he is admirably adapted. He was married in San Francisco, June 12, 1878, to Elizabeth Koegel, a native daughter of the Golden State. They have one child, a son of twelve years, who is now in pursuit of his education in the public schools, standing high in his classes, and is recognized as a boy of great brightness.

      Mr. Whyte resides at Golden Gate, Alameda county.

      As a firm Messrs. Whyte & De Rome stand high in the manufacturing circles of the Pacific coast, being of great industry and perseverance, and well versed in their several duties; which, together with integrity and honesty of purpose, have been the fundamental principles of their well-merited success. 



Transcribed by David and Joyce Rugeroni.

Source: “The Bay of San Francisco,” Vol. 2, Pages 353-355, Lewis Publishing Co, 1892.

© 2006 David Rugeroni.




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