Aurelius S Hinds. The story of a country boy who made good.

In my post about the converted garage at 99 Chadwick Street, I noted it was originally built for Aurelius Hinds. In doing a bit of research on Mr Hinds at that time, I realized his story was worth telling as it traces a period of growth in the city of Portland both physically and economically. His presence is felt through the buildings he left behind. One in a fashionable, then and now, section of town and the other a landmark on one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares. Here is a bit more of his story.

Aurelius Stone Hinds was born in Livermore Maine in 1844. In 1862 he moved Portland to work as a clerk for H. H. Hay & Co. and then, after returning home in 1864 for a short time, came back to Portland to work as a drug clerk for Thomas G. Loring in his drug store on the corner of Exchange and Federal Streets.

In 1870, Aurelius went into business for himself after buying a drug store under Preble House on Congress Street. Beckett’s City Directory of 1873 has Hinds operating at the Preble House while living at Simeon Higgins’ boarding  house at 249 Congress Street.

The Preble House ca: 1920

The Preble House ca: 1920

Somewhere around 1873, the history is incomplete, Hinds developed his Honey Almond Cream, a product that contained neither honey or almonds. It seems to have been mostly beeswax with some emulsifiers such as borax (?!) and glycerin. The combination would prove to be a good one and soon Hinds patented the product.

Hind’s Honey Almond Cream would prove to be a huge success. In 1880 The A. S. Hinds Company was operating out of a new store at the corner of Brackett & Pine Streets in Portland. The location of this store is open to conjecture as the buildings on all 4 corners were built after this date. It is interesting that the apartment house at 203 Brackett Street, on the northwest corner of the intersection, has a plaque above the door showing “1889”.  This date is supported by the 1924 tax record for the property giving an age of 35 years. This date is also consistent with the company’s next move.

By 1890 the company had moved to a new store just up Pine Street at the intersection of Clark and West Streets. By this time Hinds had become successful on an international level with agents selling his product in South America, Asia and Europe. Bigger things were still to come.

The first A.S. Hinds factory on West Street.

By 1904, Hinds had once again outgrown their location. It was in that year that a new laboratory and factory was built at 20 West Street. 6 years earlier, Hinds hired John Calvin Stevens to design his home at the corner of West and Chadwick Streets. The house was demolished at an unknown time. The lot remains empty. Hinds went back to Stevens’ office for the new lab. The lab building is now condominiums.

Aurelius Hind's house in 1924.

Aurelius Hind’s house in 1924.

In 1907 Hinds sold his company to Lehn & Fink, Inc. The company was a wholesale druggist based in New York. The arrangement allowed Hinds to increase distribution while, in the short term, maintaining a fairly large amount of independence. By 1920, things had changed for A. S. Hinds. From the removal of the apostrophe in the eponymous honey almond cream to an expansion of products sold under the Hinds banner.

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With production of an increased line of increasingly popular items, Hinds once again outgrew their facility on West Street. So, in 1920 they went back to John Calvin Stevens and Son to design a modern factory in Forest Avenue in the then growing Oakdale neighborhood. This facility had nearly 4x the space and access to rail lines. With the move to this new facility, the lab building on West Street was sold to Walter Griffin in 1921. Northeast Historic film has a brief, 4:57, film shot by Charles Hinds in the factory in 1925. Due to copyright rules, I cannot embed it here but I do recommend viewing it. The gentleman smoking the cigar over the kettles is a laugh.

A.S. Hinds factory in 1924

A.S. Hinds factory in 1924

By 1926 things had changed. Production and distribution of all products were moved to New Jersey in that year. The Forest Avenue facility was closed and, in a series of transactions in February of 1926, ownership was transferred to a real estate development company called, rather uncreatively, 335 Forest Avenue Inc. Change the “Inc” to “LLC” and it could be 2016.

Aurelius Hinds died on March 18, 1929. He was buried next to his wife Ellen, who passed away in 1921, & his son Walter, who died in 1928, in Evergreen Cemetery. His son Charles, owner of a future installment of this blog, was managing the local remains of the company by that time. He died in 1958.

Author’s note: Much of the business and product history for this post was sourced from cosmeticsandskin.com.  Their history of A.S. Hinds and it’s products is in depth and goes far beyond what I have presented here. Worth the read for those so inclined.

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