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The original Laconia Car Shops, established by Charles Ranlet, started operation here on Water Street in 1848 manufacturing boxcars for the Concord and Montreal Railroad and other New England lines.
Ranlet's enterprise prospered and by the time the company ceased operations in the early 1930's, it had expanded to a workforce of 1500 while producing all kinds of passenger and freight railroad cars, subway cars, and trolley cars. For decades in fact, the Laconia Car Company was one of the largest manufacturing concerns north of Boston.
Hectors is located in one of the later established brick buildings known as Building 18, constructed between 1900 and 1905. It was erected for the purpose of building steel under-frames for freight cars. The last passenger car was delivered sometime around 1925.
Thanks to the efforts of the Laconia Industrial Development Corporation, the Laconia Shoe Company set up operations in Building 18 in the late 1930's. In the early 1970's, it moved to the Normandin Square plant of the former Scott and Williams company before going out of business in the 1980's. The space occupied today by Hectors was once the shoe company's stitching room.
After the shoe company had moved out, space in the building was used for warehousing and light manufacturing by the Aavid Engineering and Franklin Brush companies before being renovated for office and retail space in the early 1980's.
From railroad cars to shoes to retail space, Building 18 has a proud heritage in the history of Laconia.
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