Out of the Attic – Belle Pre Bottle Company

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In 1899, a patent was issued for a special bottle cap and bottle lip design. A modified lip, or neck rim, allowed the paper cap to be easily removed and reinserted. The Washington, D.C.-based Belle Pre Bottle Company had plans to use the new design for milk and cream packaging, allowing users to easily open and reseal the bottles. Among Belle Pres corporate officers was F.R. Horner, who operated the Evergreen Dairy in the District.

In early 1902, Belle Pre announced plans to build a factory on the northwest corner of North Henry and Madison streets to produce this particular bottle, and the plant opened in the fall. Spread over six acres and covering the entire block, the factory was also equipped with a sawmill to process lumber for making boxes which held the bottles. As many as 250 men and boys worked there at a time.

Within five years, the factory was reportedly producing one million bottles a month. However, whatever success Belle Pre had was short-lived. In 1912, the company closed and filed for bankruptcy, and its equipment was auctioned.

The factory resumed operations in 1917 when Old Dominion Glass Company used it following a devastating fire at its Alexandria plant. But it later closed and was only used by Old Dominion for storage of machinery and moulds. On October 24, 1921, a fire of an incendiary origin destroyed the Belle Pre plant seen in this c. 1907 image.

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