LeRoy Pennysaver & News - page 11

This past Saturday, the folks
at Lapp Insulator held a party to
celebrate their100thanniversary.
It’s not very common in these
times, tohavean industry remain
in the same community where
it began. In December 1916,
John S. Lapp, who grew up in
Honeoye Falls, incorporated
the Lapp Insulator Company.
Withindays, constructionbegan
at the end of Gilbert Street on
land that John always called
“Bob Heaman’s potato patch.”
The factory was completed
in less than a year and the
first insulators were shipped in
September 1917.
John S. Lapp was born in
Honeoye Falls in 1878. He
graduated from Honeoye Falls
High School in 1896 and he
workedpart-timewithhis father
at the Fred Locke Insulator
Company in Victor. His father
andFredLockeworked together
on some innovative insulator
ACenturyof Innovation–Lapp Insulator
designs.When John’s father left
Locke, John S. continued for
a while, and signed a five-year
contract.Butwhenhebecame ill,
Locke fired him. John sued, and
won $28,000, which he used to
build his new factory in LeRoy.
Soon, John’s brother, Grover
joined the team. Lapp Insulator
was known for innovative
designs and custom production.
the Lapp Vacuum Process that
revolutionized the preparation
of wet process porcelain. It
removed all the air from the
porcelainmixture.Then in1925,
Lapp introduced and patented
the Lapp Clay Mixing Process
that changed the entire industry
Lapp engineers came up with
a totally innovative fog-style
post insulator that incorporated
horizontal “petticoats” on the
outside. This design allowed
the insulator to bewashed clean
by the rain, which prevented
f l a s h - ov e r s .
Never the less,
Lapp continued to
manufacture the
part insulators
until 1957. Lapp
also designed and
produced special
porcelain coils
that were used
in the Manhattan
Project that led to
the production of
the atomic bomb
at theendofWorld
War II.
In 2013, the
Historical Society had a major
exhibit about Lapp Insulator.
The exhibit included the rare
“Stafford T- markers” which
were used to mark the Tees at
golf courses. There was also an
assortment of Lapp Flameware,
which was a white kitchenware
that unfortunately could not be
used on an electric stove, so it
was only in production for a
year. We also exhibited about
twenty ashtrays and a couple of
banks. But the most fascinating
part of the exhibit was the large
collection of “specialty” items
that the factory workers made
and put through the kilns, when
the bosses weren’t looking. Our
collection of these one-of-a-
kind pieces continues to grow,
and includes large dogs, vases,
elephants, lampbases - even two
large nudes.
The Historical Society put
together a small exhibit in four
cases at the anniversary party.
Quite a few folks stopped by
to take a look at Paul Drayo’s
basketballuniform, andamaroon
baseball jerseydonatedbyGinny
Pridgeon. In the same case was
a photograph of the women’s
baseball team, the “Lappetts.”
There was one case with a few
early insulators, including the
post insulators marked with an
incisedLapp logo. The logowas
notched to indicate the year and
month of production. Another
case held a copy of theArmyE.
Award given to Lapp for their
service in World War II, and a
list of the men from Lapp who
served. Of course, the casewith
the specialty items drew a lot of
attention.Most peoplehadnever
seen a yellow glazed ashtray.
Thereweremanymembers of
theLapp familyat thecelebration
aswell as John,Kitzie, andPeter
Jenner, whose father became
president ofLapp Insulator after
the death of John S. Lapp. And
theHistoricalSocietywould like
to thank the Jenner family for
sponsoring the exhibit.
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