Editor's Note: This is the 279th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.
HUNTINGTON — Born in 1897, Darwin Ensign was a lifelong resident of Huntington and a veteran of World War I. He attended West Virginia University and was a graduate of the Bliss Electrical School in Silver Spring, Maryland.
In 1938, he and Charles C. Armstrong founded Ensign Electric and Manufacturing Co., which established a plant at 914 Adams Ave. Armstrong also founded another Huntington manufacturer, Armstrong Products. Ensign Electric later opened a second plant at the Kyle Industrial Park on Ohio River Road.
Ensign built AC and DC electrical controls, transformers, rectifiers and connectors, primarily for the mining industry. In 1968, the long-time Huntington business was sold to Harvey Hubble Inc., a national and international electronics company.
By 1975, the company's employment had grown to about 400 workers, and the Adams Avenue plant had grown to an 11-building complex along the north side of the avenue between 9th and 11th streets west.
In June of 1977, Ensign conducted its first-ever open house and picnic for its employees. Addressing the gathering, Plant Manager Ken Williamson said: "The future looks good for Ensign Electric and its employees."
A bit more than two years later, in September 1979, Ensign laid off a third of its workforce. In March 1983, Hubbell ordered the Adams Avenue plant closed.
Hubbell donated the closed plant buildings to the City of Huntington. Later, it was conveyed by the City to Guyan Machinery and is now owned by C-4 Enterprises, LLC.
Having long since retired from the company he founded, Darwin Ensign died in 1985.