Comstock-Castle Stove History
Early in the nineteenth century, Illinois was the western fringe of the United States. Pioneers moving westward to take advantage of free or low cost land settled west central Illinois. Most pioneers did not want to bring heavy cast iron cookware or heating stoves with them. Instead they waited to get to their destination to buy these essential goods. Hardware stores were always some of the very first businesses to open in regions being settled. Quincy and Adams County Illinois grew quickly due to their location on the largest natural harbor on the Mississippi River.
Comstock-Castle Stove began with Allen Comstock and Timothy H. Castle moving to Quincy and Adams County in the mid 1830s. Both opened hardware stores: Comstock in Quincy and Castle in nearby Columbus, Illinois. Stoves brought by riverboat from New York and St. Louis were prominent items sold by both firms.
Comstock started a foundry to manufacture stoves and hollow ware in 1846 and the primary business of the company since that time has been stove manufacturing. While Comstock's business was called A. Comstock & Company the foundry was known as the Phoenix Stove Works. Over the years, Quincy became a center for stove manufacturing with numerous foundries operating. Most of these foundries were started by former employees of Comstock-Castle Stove.Comstock-Castle owned other stove manufacturing companies in Quincy, IL and Keokuk, IA. More stoves were made in Quincy, Illinois in the 1800s than anywhere else. In the early 1900s Comstock-Castle's logo claimed to be the "World's Largest Sellers."
In 1849 Allen Comstock left Illinois for the California gold rush leaving his brother Enoch in charge of the company. In the 1850s Timothy Castle bought into the stove foundry forming a partnership. During the American Civil War the company name changed to Comstock-Castle Stove Company and the Castle family took over the management of the business. The present management of the company is sixth generation of this Castle family.
By 1884 corporations had become common and the company incorporated as a 99 year corporation, reincorporating in 1983 as a perpetual corporation.
The company made domestic and commercial cooking and heating equipment and incinerators until the depression years of the 1930s. During the depression, the unprofitable and more competitive domestic, heating and incinerator lines were dropped. Natural gas became the preferred fuel by the 1930s and the wood and coal stoves were phased out of the company product lines.
Currently, the company manufactures commercial (restaurant) cooking equipment selling in the U.S. and internationally. Comstock-Castle has a network of service and warranty repair agencies established throughout the United States. The company uses their own sales force to market their products to restaurant equipment and supply companies. Every year the company exhibits at numerous international, national, and regional restaurant trade shows. In export markets, the company uses a mix of import agents in specific countries or regions and some export management companies in other areas.
The company is a member of the North American Association of Food Equipment Manufactures (NAFEM) and has a NAFEM Level 1 Certified Foodservice Professional (CFSP) on staff and serving on the Board of Directors of NAFEM.
The company's main emphasis at the present time is to improve the quality of its products and services while adding new products to the mix.