Arnold, Hoffman & Co., Inc. traces it roots back to 1815 in Providence, Rhode Island. In a small store on Broad St., Benjamin and Charles Dyer setup a
wholesale business for drugs, chemicals and dyes. It changed hands many times over the years. In 1874 the name was Mason, Chapin & Co. and the firm
was one of the largest importers of natural indigo from India.
In 1892 the company acquired the Anchor Color & Gum Works which had built a plant in Dighton, Massachusetts in 1861 to manufacture furniture and later
colors ground in oil for paint. Starch and softening agents were also made. In 1897 Edward. E. Arnold, president of Mason, Chapin & Co., formed Arnold,
Peck & Co. with William H. Hoffman as an investor. In 1900 Arnold and Hoffman formed the Arnold, Hoffman & Co. corporation. Arnold had established the
Mathieson Alkali Works in 1892 in Saltville, Virginia. He served three years as a member of the Rhode Island Senate.
By 1917 the company was selling products of the Mathieson Alkali Works including soda ash, caustic soda, sodium bicarbonate and liquid chlorine. It also
sold sodium ferrocyanide and sodium cyanide for the Nitrogen Products Co. The products of Anchor Color & Gum Works included dextrine, gums, oils,
pure pigment colors, and cutch.
William H. Hoffman was vice president until his death in 1916 and Edward E. Arnold was president until he died in 1925. At that time William H. Hayward
was named president. When Hayward retired in 1937, Edwin Arnold, son of Edward E. Arnold, became president.
The firm setup a new research laboratory in 1937 with William L. Morgan as research director. Vat dyes were a major research area and were sold under
the trademark “Ahcovat”. The trademark "Ahcoquinone" was used for anthraquinone based alizarin dyes for wool. The business grew rapidly and sales
offices were established in Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Charlotte. The main office remained in Providence.
All manufacturing took place in Dighton until a new textile chemicals plant was built in Charlotte in 1943 to better serve the industry in the South. This
plant was located on North Tryon Street.
The company consisted of eight operating departments:
1) The Dyes Department made alizarin and vat dyes.
2) The Synthetic Department made resins, softeners, wetting agents, plasticizers and detergents.
3) The Size Department manufactured sizing compounds for fabrics and gums for textile printing.
4) The Starch Department converted flours into dry adhesives, printing gums and finishing gums.
5) The Brokerage Department resold chemicals in bags and bulk.
6) The Export Department marketed products abroad.
7) The Fire Specialties Department sold the fire extinguishing agent “Drench”.
8) The Machine Tool Division sold coolants for cutting and grinding machinery.
"Drench" was the wetting agent Ahcowet RS (sulfonated butyl oleate) which was added to fire water to make it wetter. This was important to fight fires in
baled materials like cotton and cardboard. But "Drench" was unsuccessful because at the time fire hoses were made of heavy cotton which tended to
rot after exposure to the compound.
The company went public with a stock offering in 1947. In 1950, Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) took a 70% stake in the company. In 1951 the director of
research was Dr. Carl Barnes, who formerly worked at the General Aniline and Film Corporation (GAF) research center in Easton, Pennsylvania.
The Synthetic Department production was shifted in 1952 to the company's Harkness & Cowing Division plant in Cincinnati where fatty acids were
produced. This moved resulted in additional space for the expansion of soluble vat dye manufacturing at Dighton which was supported by ICI. The
soluble vats were suited for cotton, rayon and wool as well as many of the new synthetic fibers.
In the early 1950's the plant had 400 to 500 employees. Charles Miller, with many years of experience in the Grangemouth Works of ICI in Scotland was
named Works Manager of Dighton in 1952. He was familiar with the production of Soledons, the tradename for the ICI soluble vats. Arnold, Hoffman &
Co. marketed the line under the name Ahcovat Soluble dyes. The products included Green IB, Olive Green IBL, Pink IR, Brown IBR, Indigo O, Golden
Yellow IGR, Golden Yellow IRK and Blue IBC.
In 1952 the company opened a new laboratory, warehouse and distribution facility at the Bergen County Industrial Terminal in Teterboro-South
Hackensack, New Jersey. The brick and steel facility had 10,000 square feet of floor space.
A. Herbert Noble, Jr. was named plant manager of Dighton in 1961. He was previously manager of the Cincinnati and Charlotte plants. Noble joined the
company in 1938 as a research chemist.
By 1963 the chemical activities of Arnold, Hoffman & Co. were growing faster than dye business. The production of halothane (1,1,1-trifluoro-2,2-
chlorobromoethane), a non-explosive anaesthetic discovered by ICI, was taken up at Dighton. In that year the name of the company was changed to ICI
(Organics), Inc. which was part of ICI America Inc. The headquarters was in Stamford, Connecticut. At the time ICI was one of the three largest chemical
companies in the world.
An advanced waste water treatment unit was built at Dighton in 1972 at a cost of $4.0 million. At that time the plant produced over 50 different Procion
fiber reactive dyes. Wastewater from dye production was first collected in a 600,000 gallon equalization basin. Color and metals were removed from the
wastewater using adsorption columns packed with a special polymeric resin. The second stage of the new treatment system, using biological treatment
to remove organics, was scheduled for completion in 1974. The annual cost of operating and maintaining the new system was estimated at $325,000.
ICI adopted the name ICI United States Inc. in 1974 to reflect the merger of ICI America and Atlas Chemical Industries. The U.S. operations were part of ICI
Americas, now headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware.
During the late 1970's-early 1980's the dye industry in the U.S. was restructured, when American firms such as Allied Chemical, GAF, Du Pont and American
Cyanamid dropped out. Lower duties on imported dyes and intermediates made it difficult for American companies to compete. European based
companies then dominated the market, including Ciba-Geigy, Bayer, BASF and Hoechst. More changes came in the 1990's when the European firms
started to divest their dye businesses because of competition from India and China.
In 1992 ICI exited the dye business and sold the Dighton plant to Zeneca Specialties. The plant was closed in 1994 and Zeneca entered into a consent
order with the EPA to remediate the contamination at the 25 acre facility. Most of the buildings have been demolished and contaminated soil excavated.
The cleanup and restoration of Muddy Cove Brook is underway. The plan is to redevelop portions of the site for future commercial use. In addition
Zeneca spent $12 million to remove drums of hazardous waste from the Dighton plant that had been improperly disposed of at the St. Germain Drum Site
in nearby Taunton.
1) Williams Haynes, American Chemical Industry, Vol. 6 (New York: D. Van Nostrand, 1949), pp. 38-39
2) American Dyestuff Reporter, Vol. 1, No. 1, October 8, 1917, p. 14
3) "Arnold, Hoffman Expands Harkness & Cowing Division", American Dyestuff Reporter, Vol. 41, No. 19, September 15, 1952, p. 586
4) "Arnold, Hoffman Producing Soluble Vat Dyes, American Dyestuff Reporter, October 13, 1952, pp. 687-688
5) "Arnold-Hoffman in BCIT Location", American Dyestuff Reporter, January 21, 1952, p. 58
6) "Arnold, Hoffman Now ICI (Organics), Inc.", American Dyestuff Reporter, Vol. 52, No. 15, July 22, 1963, p. 53
7) "R.I. Chemical Firm To Expand in Mass.", The Berkshire Evening Eagle (Pittsfield, MA), September 2, 1952
8) "ICI Sets Pollution Control Unit", American Dyestuff Reporter, Vol. 61, No. 8, August 1972, p. 57
9) Leander Ricard, personal communication, November 2005
ColorantsHistory.Org thanks Mr. Leander Ricard for recommending that the history of Arnold, Hoffman & Co. be documented. We also thank Mr. Charles
A. Robinson for supplying the brochure Beyond the Horizon: Arnold, Hoffman Looks to the Future!.
|Arnold, Hoffman & Company
|Ad in American Dyestuff Reporter, 1925
Click to Enlarge
|Views of Dighton Plant, American Dyestuff Reporter 1952. Click Images to Enlarge
|Aerial View of Dighton Site ca. 2002
Source: GoogleEarth. Click to Enlarge
|A. H. Noble , Plant Manger (Left) and R. V. Ward, Production
Manager, Discuss Plans for New Wastewater Treatment Unit
Photo-American Dyestuff Reporter, 1972. Click to Enlarge.
|Ad for Dyes Manufactured at Dighton
American Dyestuff Reporter 1978. Click to Enlarge
|Commemorative Medal Celebrating the 125th Anniversary of Arnold, Hoffman & Co. in 1940
Photos Courtesy of Linda Marcus. Click to Enlarge.
Image: US Patent and Trademark Office
|Arnold, Hoffman & Co. Plant, Dighton, Massachusetts, ca. 1948. View to South.
Image: Beyond the Horizon: Arnold, Hoffman Looks to the Future!, 1948
|Arnold, Hoffman & Co. Offices
45-61 Canal St., Providence, RI, ca. 1907
|Edward Everet Arnold (1853-1925)
Co-Founder of Arnold, Hoffman & Co.
|Ad in Textile Overseer's Association of
Fitchburgh, Massachusetts, 1917-1917.
Image Courtesy of Peter Metzke.
Copyright © 2005-2010 by ColorantsHistory.Org. All Rights Reserved.
|Charles Miller (left) , Dighton Works Manager, Presented with 20 Year Service
Award by Eric Bingen of ICI in 1954. Photo Courtesy of Charles A. Robinson.