VICTOR BLDG. 2 & BLDG. 17: 1917 and 2017
Here we see Victor Bldg. 2 shortly after construction from the the now defunct Point St. in Camden, NJ looking towards Cooper St. (and Victor Bldg. 17 towards the back - with Nipper Tower).
Known today as THE VICTOR RECORDS BUILDING, the duties of this structure when it opened included the administration of the music industry Victor had born. Besides the everyday business of the Victor Company’s incredible recording and music empire - within these walls occurred the founding of JVC (Japanese Victor Company), the invention of the VINYL RECORD, the founding of Victor subsidiary ‘EMI’, the design and purchase of the famous Abbey Road Studios, and the signing of recording legends like LeadBelly, Frank Sinatra, The Carter Family, Caruso, Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller - to name a few.
VICTOR BLDG. 2: VICTOR STUDIO A
When the Victor Company built its palatial new headquarters in 1916-1918 the company felt a recording studio would be required to record large musical groups (as a full symphony orchestra had not yet been recorded up until that point). VICTOR STUDIO A (dubbed ‘A’ amongst the recording studio complex in Camden because it was built to simulate a concert hall auditorium) was born on the 8th floor of Victor Bldg. 2.
Victor Studio A served as the very first large format recording studio ever built - and the first recording studio in the world to record a full sized orchestra. Through the years CARUSO, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Karl Muck, The Boston Symphony Orchestra, Louis Armstrong, Rachmaninoff, The Carter Family, Fats Waller, Woody Guthrie, and many more would grace its beautiful and legendary acoustic design. The recording studio ceased operations in the 1940s and would eventually become offices for RCA-Victor administration, a gym for later Bldg. 2 employees during the 1980s, and finally offices for the Camden Board Of Education. In 2017, The Victor Company helped to effort to acquire the building and restore the legendary recording studio to its former beauty - seen in progress in the later photo.
VICTOR BLDGs. 13, 14, & 12
The Victor Co. wasn’t JUST a recording company. Victor became an entire music industry by being the first and eventually largest producer of records and turntables on earth. For many years, the company was the largest importer of fine lumber in the world and the science behind how these tone-woods effected the listening experience created a tradition of acoustic science still followed by the VICTOR Custom Shop to this day. The kiln and mill buildings (BLDGS. ______) brought in lumber from the merchant ships and from the Pennsylvania Railroad which was processed into Victrola turntables and cabinetry for home audio. Bldg. 13 was originally built to process granules for records which were then pressed and distributed around the world to the tune of over 2 BILLION records from 1896-1946. The first photo displays the power plant smoke stacks (which can also be seen at the end of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘STREETS OF PHILADELPHIA’ music video) along with the buildings in the year 1915 prior to the construction of the Ben Franklin Bridge. The later photograph taken from roughly the same position is from 1971 during the demolition of the kiln and lumber yard - which had been out of use when the 1950s focused on non wooden cabinetry for record players, radios, and speakers.
VICTOR BLDG. 3
The Victor Co. was challenged to an arms race in the mid 1920s by a new company with a new form of home entertainment that (at the time) appeared to be the future of music at home. The Radio Corporation Of America (RCA) introduced their home ‘RADIOLA’ to directly compete against Victor’s VICTROLA and ELECTROLA model turntables. Already established as the predominant power in the music industry, VICTOR held its ground - and eventually entered the radio business itself after inventing the first self tuning radio dial - a patent that RCA desperately needed to make the radio a household necessity. When VICTOR entered the radio business, the Radio Corporation Of America soon became partners with the new venture - and eventually the two firms merged in 1929 - consolidating Victor’s hold over the music industry under RCA/VICTOR.
Victor Bldg 3. was built as a new manufacturing facility in 1929 - and was the only building at the Victor plant built under RCA’s ownership of the firm. The block wide and block long facility was built to increase ‘Radiola’ and ‘Victrola/Radiola’ production during the 1930s - and eventually would be the site of the very first TV manufacturing plant when RCA introduced the television in 1946. The first photo is from 1930 and the final transformation is a 1975 photo - shortly before the majority of Bldg. 3 was demolished. Around 100,000 Sq/Ft (a sizeable portion) of Bldg. 3 still exists and is connected to Bldg. 2 at 201 North Front St., Camden, NJ.