The Prest-o-lite Company came to Minneapolis in 1912, headquartered in the Soo Line Building downtown, with the plant located at West Lake and Monitor Streets, south of Highway 7, inside the Industrial Circle. The company had been organized in 1904 by Graham Fisher and James A. Allison.
The company introduced a new system of acetylene gas headlights. Ads urged customers to “Brighten the Way – Do not Blind Others.” Tanks were mounted on running boards of cars to produce energy to run the headlights. The factory generated 1,200 tanks of acetylene gas per day. There were 27 other factories around the country.
The Minneapolis Tribune reported reported a fire on December 22, 1913, at the “old plant of the Presto-O-Lite Company,” with a loss estimated at $5,000. “The flames spread rapidly through the main building and out-buildings. A bucket brigade aided by an old band fire engine of the Monitor Drill company were ineffective. The building was occupied temporarily by the company following the destruction of the Midway plant a year ago. It was vacated late in November. The explosion of a drum of acetone, used to absorb gas from small tanks, scattered the amateur fire fighters when the blaze was at its height.”
In 1914 the local manager was C.J. Pettit. After auto lights became electrified, the company specialized in other commercial uses of gas. In 1938, the company’s headquarters is listed as New York City. James A. Guy was the plant manager in 1945. The company merged with Linde Air Products in 1946.
Prestolite factory, 1920