The Verona Chemical Company was incorporated on January 29, 1902, with a capital stock authorization of $50,000. The plant was located at 26 Verona Avenue in Newark. The nine acre site
was close to the Passaic River. Verona Avenue is the northernmost street in Newark, bordering Belleville, and was named after the city of Verona in the northern part of Italy. The company
was founded by Edwin Kuttroff (1877-1969), who graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1898. He likely received financial support to start the company from his
father Adolph Kuttroff, a German immigrant who was cofounder of the dye importing firm Pickhardt & Kuttroff.
The company manufactured saccharine, its first product, in 1903 using imported ortho-toluolsulfamid and permanganate of potash. This led to research on vanillin by the chief chemist, Dr.
Adolph Wack. Dr. Wack discovered a new synthetic route that greatly improved the yield. The new process was patented in the U.S. and in Europe and was used by the largest European
producer of vanillin.
The next project was the distillation of essential oils-clove, patchouli, sandalwood, nutmeg, and pimento berries. The product line was withdrawn a year or two later because of low sales.
Verona Chemical then branched out into new fields and began making potash chrome alum and terpin hydrate (U.S.P. crystals and powder). The manufacturing department was expanded to
produce thymol crystals, made from ajowan seed from India. The company was the sole producer of these products in the U.S. for some years. In 1908 an appeal was made to Congress for
The early layout of the plant buildings can be seen in the 1911 map of Newark depicted below:
In 1913 an agreement was signed with Dr. Bernard J. Flursheim, of Fleet, England, for the sole American rights to the explosive tetranitroaniline, of which Dr. Flursheim was the inventor. The
process involved one-stage nitration of m-nitroaniline sulfate. In 1914 Joseph C. Bender, a chemist who graduated that year from Cornell University, assisted Dr. Flursheim in starting up a new
plant for this explosive. This product was taken over too late to introduce as a new military explosive in the U.S. But in making tetranitroaniline, it was first necessary to prepare m-
dinitrobenzene and then m-nitroaniline by sodium polysulfide reduction. Verona Chemical soon found there was a strong demand for the coal-tar intermediates by the emerging dyestuff
industry. The company specialized in them and dropped the old products except for chrome alum and vanillin.
Since the vanillin required sulfanilic acid as the starting material, which could no longer be imported due to the war, the company took up its manufacture. Verona Chemical became either the
first or second U.S. producer of many intermediates including: o-aminophenol, dinitrochlorbenzene, m-nitroaniline, p-chloro-o-nitroaniline, dichloroaniline, and chloroanisidine.
Around this time, Dr. Wack encouraged Caesar A. Grasselli, head of the Grasselli Chemical Company, to enter the dye manufacturing field. Grasselli Chemical built a sulfur dye and
intermediates plant at its heavy chemicals site in Linden, New Jersey, in 1915. This site would later be known as the dye works of the General Aniline and Film Corporation.
The expansion of the intermediates line at Verona Chemical was led by Dr. J. Ehrlich, chief chemist who succeeded Dr. Wack in 1917. The synthetic organic processes found in the literature
were not always suitable for commercial production. Completely new syntheses had to be worked out in order for the company to produce high purity products at a competitive cost. The plant
was expanded around 1920 to handle the new business. The company developed a good reputation for the quality and purity of their products. Part of the plant was damaged in a two-alarm fire
in 1922, but repairs were made quickly.
A partial list of the U.S. patents granted to the firm shows the scope of the work the company has done:
No. 898,942, September 15, 1908- -Process of making aromatic carbonyl derivatives.
No. 898.943, September 15. 1908--Process of making camphor.
No. 1,502,849, July 29, 1924--Process for the production of nitroso m-cresol and its application to the separation of m-cresol and p-cresol.
No. 1,550,064, August 18, 1925--Explosive.
No. 1,610.270, December 14. 1926--Oil solvent process.
No. 1,787,036, December 30,1930--Propenyl derivatives of aromatic hydrocarbons.
No. 1,801,416, April 21, 1931--Aldehydes from propenyl derivatives of aromatic hydrocarbons.
No. 1,945,270, January 30,1934--Purification of cincophen and its salts.
No. 2,376,485 and 2,276,486, May 22, 1945-Granular bouillon
Edwin Kuttroff retired in 1938, selling the company to new investors headed by Franklin H. Stafford. Stafford was encouraged by his brother-in-law, Ernest K. Halbach who was the head of the
General Dyestuff Corporation. General Dyestuff Corporation, which was the sales agency for the dyes business of General Aniline and Film Corporation, took a financial stake in Verona
Chemical. There were about 60 employees during World War II.
The new management continued the production of difficult to make, very pure organic chemicals, but also modernized the processes and increased the capacity for hydroquinone, methyl-p-
aminophenol sulfate, phenylethyl alcohol and ionones. The latter two chemicals were sold to the soap and perfume trades and it was decided to further expand the aromatic chemicals
business. The research group developed special aldehydes, glycidates and other aromatics. A few years later, new buildings were erected to manufacture these products. A typical
fragrance product was Oil of Lavender Technical E-1465, D.G., which was composed of 71% linalyl acetate and 29% essential oils.
In 1950 Herbert H. Dorer was the chief chemist with five chemists working in the laboratory. The library had 1,500 volumes. Stafford died in 1950 and Halbach, who had resigned earlier from
the General Dyestuff Corporation, assumed control of the company. In 1953 Verona Chemical established a new division, Verona Dyestuffs, to sell selected domestic and imported dyes. The
headquarters and sales offices were located in Union, New Jersey.
In 1957 Verona Chemical merged with the Pharma Chemical Corporation, which had two dye manufacturing plants in Bayonne, New Jersey. In the same year, Bayer acquired the merged firm,
which was known as the Verona-Pharma Chemical Corporation.
By the late 1950’s the plant consisted of 22 buildings spread over the nine acre site, which was bounded by Verona Avenue on the north and Riverside Avenue on the east. The two-story, red
brick office building was well constructed as were most of the production buildings. The boiler house generated process steam by burning No. 2 fuel oil. The roads throughout the site were
wide and paved.
The workers were unionized. Peter Leone was in charge of maintenance and A. Finkensieper was the head of engineering. Dr. J. Martin Cross (1908-2000) was vice president of operations; he
had previously worked for the General Aniline and Film Corporation. The plant had about 80 employees.
There were two serious safety incidents in the 1950’s. In 1952 an explosion blew out the roof and set fire to a two-story concrete and cinder block building. Two employees working on the first
floor were knocked down by the blast but managed to escape unhurt. The blast occurred in a 1,500 gallon tank on the second floor. In 1958 two employees were seriously burned in an
explosion that wrecked part of a building. The explosion occurred in a distillation unit for diaminoanisole, a chemical used for fur dyeing.
Dr. Manfred Vock, a chemist from Bayer, joined the company in 1959 and worked in the field of flavors and fragrances. A building was rented on the Rt. 22 highway in Union, New Jersey and a
pilot plant was setup. Dr. Vock was succeeded by Dr. James Adams and the product line was eventually transferred to the Haarmann & Reimer subsidiary of Bayer. Dr. Adams later became
president of Haarmann & Reimer.
In the early 1960's the Newark plant was producing aromatics, Phthalogen Brilliant Blue IF3G, textile auxiliaries such as Roskydal and Acramin Binder SLN, fast color bases, organic
Intermediates, fur dyes, and a special developer for Polaroid. The plant was underutilized and maintenance costs for the old buildings were high. Some of the product lines were transferred to
the Pharma Chemical Plant 2 in Bayonne. The plant site was sold in 1963 to Drew Chemical at a loss of $230,000 plus $13,000 in closing expenses. A few years later, the plant was
demolished. The photo below shows the site is now a parking area for an adjoining company. The historic Coeyman Family Cemetery, dating to 1702, remains at the site but is unmarked.
1) Williams Haynes and Edward L. Gordy, Editors, "Coal-tar Synthetics", Chemical Industry's Contribution to the Nation: 1635-1935 (New York: Chemical Markets, 1935), p. 115
2) Williams Haynes, American Chemical Industry, Vol. 6 (New York: D. Van Nostrand, 1949), pp. 461-462
3) Williams Haynes, ""The Old Order Passeth"-A Profile of Ernest Kay Halbach (1883-1958)", American Dyestuff Reporter, Vol. 47, February 24, 1958, pp. 135-136
4) "Chemical Blast Rocks Building", Newark Evening News, April 9, 1952
5) "Blast Burns 2 at Plant", Newark Evening News, April 14, 1958
6) George Struzyna, personal communication, October 10, 2004
7) Vincent Daniel, personal communication, September 23, 2004
ColorantsHistory.Org thanks Vincent Daniel, retired Director of Personnel and George Struzyna, retired Vice President of Engineering, Verona Dyestuffs, for their contributions to this history.
(Click Images to Enlarge)
|View of Passaic River Industry, Newark.
Verona Chemical Behind Buildings on Right
Photo: Dave Messineo, ca. 1940's
|"Industrial Waterfront in Newark. NJ"
by Boylan Fitz-Gerald (b. 1909)
|Tank Farm on Passaic River Near Verona Chemical
Photo: Dave Messineo, ca. 1940's
|Siro Bottarini (1883-1959), Maintenance Mechanic at Verona Chemical.
Ralph Carangelo (1918-1997) joined Verona Chemical in Newark in 1939. When the plant
closed, he transferred to the Pharma Chemical Plant 2 in Bayonne. This photo was taken June
6, 1977. Ralph retired in 1984 after 45 years service as a highly skilled chemical operator.
|Former Verona Chemical Site-2001. Now Occupied by Telephone Company Repair Facility.
Aerial Photo by NJMC-MERI
|Verona Chemical Company
Newark, New Jersey
|Verona Chemical Company Site Plan
Robinson's Atlas of the City of Newark, New Jersey, 1926. Click to Enlarge
|Verona Chemical Company Site Plan
A. H. Mueller Atlas of Newark, 1911. Click to Enlarge
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