The Yale Lock was the very first article about Newport on this site, as well as our first article of specialized historical interest, sent in by Bill McKerrow. Bill grew up in the area and knows this region of the county like the back of his hand. Shortly after sending it in, Bill became our first town editor and this month (Jan. 2001) marks his 4th anniversary assisting Newport online researchers.

Almost one hundred and fifty years ago in 1847, Linus Yale, Sr. built his lock factory near the corner of Main and Norway Street and the Octagon House. Previous to building the lock shop, Mr. Yale had obtained several patents for improvements in sawmill and milling equipment.

His famous lock was the jointed pin tumbler lock. It became known wherever bank vaults or treasures were protected. He also made a number of locks for use on doors, drawers and other places. (The Octagon House has his locks on every door including closet doors.) Mr Yale continued to patent more locks until his death in 1857.

After his father's death, Linus Jr. continued the Newport Lock business with the White Creek Harris Brothers for a few years. Eventually, Linus, Jr. moved the business to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where Henry R. Towne joined him as an associate. Together, Yale and Towne erected a modest factory at Stamford, Connecticut. Unfortunately, Linus died suddenly in 1868 before the venture had been fully launched. Mr. Towne at once became the head of the "Yale Lock Manufacturing Company" which later changed to "The Yale and Towne Manufacturing Company". Mr Towne remained as President until 1915 and Chairman of the Board until his death in 1924.

The name of Yale is still accepted as one that gives the highest degree of security, whether in a bank, business or home. Over the years Yale and Towne Manufacturing Company has branched out to manufacture other products in addition to locks and hardware such as chain hoists, electric hoists, trolleys, electric trucks and hand lift trucks.

In closing, this quote from the Newport 1906 Centennial Book speaking of Yale Lock:

"Thus it would appear that had the financial support of Newport citizens been given them (Yale Factory) in early years, we might today have here in Newport one of the largest manufacturing enterprises in the country".

Did we really miss the boat?

Source: Newport 1906 Centennial Book
Newport Bicentennial 1976 Book
Firebox Magazine August 1939
Submitted by: Bill McKerrow and the Newport Historical Center

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Created: 1/27/97
Updated: 1/15/01
Text Copyright © 1976 - 2013 The Newport Historical Center
Copyright ©1997 - 2013 Martha S. Magill/Bill McKerrow
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