Catasauqua Press

Monday, January 21, 2019
Beach Haven apartments in New York, built by Fred C. TrumpPHOTOS COURTESY OF ESSROC AND LARRY OBERLY Beach Haven apartments in New York, built by Fred C. TrumpPHOTOS COURTESY OF ESSROC AND LARRY OBERLY
Brooklyn College, a Coplay Cement Company project Brooklyn College, a Coplay Cement Company project

Coplay Cement Company and the Trump connection

Wednesday, October 4, 2017 by ED PANY Curator, Atlas Cement Company Memorial Museum in Columns

In this third column, Mr. Larry Oberly and this writer are over at the old Essroc Cement office, now Lehigh Hanson. Essroc was formerly Coplay Cement, so we were given permission to search for some old Coplay history.

There are records for the early Coplay Cement Company, which was founded in 1866. Many are handwritten. We found many interesting flashbacks to the company’s past. Among the photographs we found were many projects in New York City, Maryland, New Jersey and other East Coast cities that used Coplay Cement.

We were thrilled when we discovered photographs of some New York apartment complexes. Larry handed me a handful of photographs. I turned a photograph over, and there was a family name we all know — Fred C. Trump, the father of President Donald Trump. There he was, Trump and Coplay Cement. I doubt if any of the fine cement workers ever saw the photograph or the connection to their historic company.

Wikipedia tells us Frederick Christ Trump was born in the Bronx, N.J., in 1905. At age 15, he started his career in home construction and, by 1927, constructed family homes in Queens, N.Y. The homes sold for $7,000. His apartment projects were close to naval shipyards. In total, he was responsible for building 27,000 apartments in New York.

During World War II, the firm also constructed barracks for the U.S. Navy. The postwar era saw a boom in housing, especially middle-income housing. Projects included Shore Haven and Beach Haven in New York. We were fortunate to discover Beach Haven photographs. Beach Haven consists of 2,700 apartments.

President Trump joined the Trump Management Company in 1961 and was named president in 1971. Fred was known for frugality. He saved unused nails and mixed his own floor cleaner. A brilliant businessman, he at one time released balloons at Coney Island with $50 coupons to use on homes costing $4,990.

Mr. Fred C. Trump passed away from pneumonia in 1999 at the age of 93. This story adds another chapter of local history to the Atlas Cement Company Memorial Museum, where we remember the Coplay Cement Manufacturing Co., 1866-1978. The memories are on exhibit at the museum in Northampton.

We wish to thank Mr. Paul Chuckaloveak of Essroc for his cooperation in this series and Mr. Oberly for his dedication to our cement history.