The Suffern Laboratory

CP Company | The Suffern Laboratory - Later Years | More Pictures of the Suffern Laboratory

California Perfume Company's Suffern Laboratory - 1898
The Suffern Laboratory
This picture was probably take very soon after the building's construction in 1898.

California Perfume Company's Suffern Laboratory - 1903
The Suffern Laboratory
This is the most popular illustration of the original Suffern Laboratory—used on a variety of Avon products and awards. Note the addition placed on the rear of the building and the tree is much larger than depicted in the earlier photograph.

In his 1903 autobiography and early historical account of the California Perfume Company entitled, A Brief History of the California Perfume Company, David H. McConnell recounts,

"It was in 1888 that I started the perfume business in a space scarcely larger than an ordinary kitchen pantry.

At first I manufactured but five odors: Violet, White Rose, Heliotrope, Lily-of-the-Valley and Hyacinth. I did much experimental work in making these odors, and the selling price of the first batch of perfumes I made did not cover one-half the actual cost of the goods, but experience is a great teacher, and I applied myself to the task of making perfumes with the same vim and energy that I-had in selling books and, after a short time, I fancied that I could produce as fine an odor as some of the old and tried perfumers; at least, my perfumes pleased my customers; they were the natural perfumes of the flower, made in the most natural way and by the same process employed by the large French perfumers.

I soon found it necessary to increase the odors, and to add to the line other articles for the toilet. Among those first put out were: Shampoo Cream, Witch Hazel Cream, Almond Cream Balm, Tooth Paste, which afterwards was made in the Tooth Tablet, Toilet Waters, etc.

As the business increased the laboratory must, of necessity grow, so that at the end of two years I was occupying one entire floor in this building for manufacturing purposes alone."

As the business grew, through the work of our agents, we were forced from time to time to increase our laboratory space, and in 1895 we built our own laboratory in Suffern, New York, 32 miles out on the main line of the Erie Railroad. This building has been enlarged and remodeled three different times, until today we have a building 120 feet long, main building 50 feet wide and the wing 30 feet, all three stories and basement giving us four working floors, each floor having 4,800 square feet of floor space, or a total floor capacity of 17,200 feet. This building is equipped with the best possible machinery, tile latest devices for bottling goods and so on, until I feel we can truthfully say that there is not a plant of our kind in the country so large and so well fitted for our business, as the laboratory of the California Perfume Company."

My object in locating the laboratory at Suffern was that as Suffern is my home I can give much more personal attention and supervision to the affairs of the laboratory than if it was located in New York. So that every day in the year, unless when I am out on one of my trips, visiting agents and general agents, I am at the laboratory every morning, and spend an hour with our chemist, going over his work and see that every ounce of goods, every package in every department is made and put up in the best possible shape.

NOTE: Though annotated as has been constructed in 1895, the Suffern Plant actually began original construction in 1897. For further details see the Historical Overview page.

Suffern Plant Workers and McConnell Family Members - 1897
Workers and Family In Front of the Suffern Plant Just After Construction
Left to right: Laura Akers (Slocum), Susie Blauvelt, Doris McConnell (Faile), Edna McConnell (Clark), Monsey (the dog),
Alice Akers, Eli Carey, on horse - Jessie Swan (Bond), Minnie Abrams (Nugent), Gertrude Wanamaker (Wemmerus)

Suffern Laboratory Workers - 1912
The Suffern Laboratory Staff
~Approximately 1912
Picture used by permission of the Hagley Museum and Library

Following are several illustrations of the Suffern Laboratory's interior that were created around 1900. These illustrations were found in the early CPC catalogs—ranging in dates from 1902 to 1906.

Suffern Laboratory - The Bookkeeping Department
The Bookkeeping Department

Suffern Laboratory - The Correspondent's Department
The Correspondent's Department

Suffern Laboratory - The Chemist's Private Room for Manufacturing Perfumes
The Chemist's Private Room for 
Manufacturing Perfumes

Suffern Laboratory - Bottling Flavoring Extracts
Bottling Flavoring Extracts

Suffern Laboratory - Bottling Perfumes
Bottling Perfumes

Suffern Laboratory - The Storage Room for Flavoring Extracts
The Storage Room for Flavoring Extracts

Suffern Laboratory - The Perfume Stock Room
The Perfume Stock Room

Suffern Laboratory - Part of the Cold Storage Room
Part of the Cold Storage Room, Showing the
Large 100 Gallon Perfume Tanks

Suffern Laboratory - The Shipping Room
The Shipping Room

Suffern Laboratory - The Engine Room
The Engine Room

CP Company | The Suffern Laboratory - Later Years | More Pictures of the Suffern Laboratory