Ruth Wells and John Young before the 1983 Museum Opens
Ruth Wells and the Wells family (AO) founded OSV. Albert and JC Wells instrumental. The Wells Antique Collection was at the Wells building at 171 Main Street – Southbridge. A Living Museum was decided and Quinebaug Village formed in 1938.
The Museum was located there from 1983- 2000 (the last ~10 years by Appt Only)
MISSION STATEMENT FOR THE OPTICAL HERITAGE MUSEUM – Sept 2004 "The Optical Heritage Museum is dedicated to the education and enrichment of the general public in the history, growth and contributions of The Eye of the Commonwealth -Southbridge, MA. This will be accomplished through continuing efforts to collect, maintain, preserve and display cultural, social and industrial artifacts, along with written documentation and oral accounts."
The OHM Board Optical Heritage Museum, Inc. Board Members: President and Curator- Dick Whitney Vice President - Margaret Morrissey Treasurer - Dave Butler Secretary - Gary Bridgman Board of Directors Chair – Dave Cunniffe Southbridge Downtown Partnership subcommittee on the Museum: Bruce Hynes, Johnathan and Lisa Krach, Margaret Morrissey, Maureen Prokos, Harvey Shanbaum & Dick Whitney
George W. Wells and Daniel S. Wells (1890s and today)
The Birth of AO William Beecher starts a jewelry and watch shop on the corner of main and central streets in 1826. AOs birth in 1833, when Beecher makes silver spectacle frames on the second floor above the jewelry shop.
1864- Arrives in Southbridge at the age of 17 with $100 in his pocket. 1864- George and brother Hiram hired by R.H.Cole and then fired. 1865 – George Wells rehired by RH Cole. 1869 – George Wells offered partnership. 1891- Cole retires, George Wells Pres. George Wells
Wells Family Georges Sons: Channing, Albert, Joel Alberts Son: George B. Wells (last Wells President of AO) marries Ruth Adams Dyer; Ruth was instrumental in founding Old Sturbridge Village
AO Ophthalmic Lens Firsts Tillyer Corrected Curve Series Minus Toric Series Implementation of Franklin Style Executive Bifocal First Plastic Photochromic Lens Permalite Abrasion Resistant coating AO Compact Small Frame PAL
AO Safety Products Firsts First Safety Goggle First Heat Tempered Glass Lens (added impact resistance lens strength) Invented Calobar and Cruxite Fulvue Frame (first with temples attached at the top) Executive Safety lens
AO Instrument Firsts Include: The LENSOMETER Additive Phoroptor Additive Trial Sets Non Contact Tonometer (1972) Cardiac difibrillator Demand pacemaker Solid State Laser
AO and Fiber Optics Early 1953 Dr. Brian OBrien joins AO (Todd-AO his top priority) Sept 1954- AO / CIA hires Will Hicks Mid –1957 Image Scrambler Project ends after Hicks tells CIA code easy to break 1958 – Hicks leaves AO and Forms Mosaic Fabrications in Sturbridge 1960 – Hicks / Eli Snitzer (AO): single mode wavelength patent
American Optical Main Plant – Late 1890s (prior to clock tower)
Recent AO History (Ownership) 1949 Wells family sells interests in AO 1967 Warner Lambert Buys AO 1982 M& R Purchase AO from WL, divests Soft Contact Lens (1984), Safety (1990), AO Lens (1996) AO Businesses still on Southbridge 1996 SOLA buys AO Lens Co.
Companies formerly a part of AO still in Southbridge AO Lens Company Now Carl Zeiss Vision Aearo (formerly AO Safety) AO Sunwear (moved to Dudley line) Schott Fiber Optics Franklin Realty (Grounds / Powerhouse)
Glass Executive Lens manufactured in Building 50
Other Companies on the Complex in Southbridge Aramark SAIC Stonebridge Press Semicon Bay Path College