Editor's note: This is the 185th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.
HUNTINGTON - The A.F. Thompson Manufacturing Co. started out in a small way. In 1913, A.F. Thompson, then living at 11th Ave. and 15th Street, began making stoves in the basement of his home. Having patented a burner that was uniquely efficient, Thompson hired a couple of workmen to help him, and soon the business was so busy it outgrew its small basement quarters.
Thompson moved his fledgling company to a building on 8th Avenue at 1st Street, but soon it also proved too small. So, in 1925, he moved again, this time buying the former Saks Stamping Co. plant, a block-long building along the Chesapeake & Ohio track at 1040 Vernon St. in the Westmoreland neighborhood.
Cecil Thompson succeeded his father as the company's president in 1940, and the elder Thompson died four years later.
The Thompson plant produced a wide variety of gas space heaters in different shapes and sizes. By the 1950s it employed 140 workers. In an assembly-line process, stacks of sheet metal entered the eastern end of the plant and completed gas heaters emerged near the building's western end.
The company established a second plant at Tyler, Texas, in 1946. It sold the Texas plant in 1959.
According to information filed at the West Virginia Secretary of State's office, Thompson Manufacturing went out of business in 1962. Clothing manufacturer Corbin Ltd. later operated in the former stove plant until 2002.
The old factory building sat vacant and neglected until 2014 when the Coalfield Development Corp. saved it from demolition. Now known as the West Edge Factory, it houses a number of job training programs.
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