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Building on a History

Originally built in 1903, at the height of Stratford’s booming furniture industry, the Globe Wernike Company, a manufacturer of office furniture was a perfect fit for Stratford. The company produced “elastic bookcases”, a cutting edge modular furniture design ahead of its time, and had, at one point, captured seventy-five per cent of the Canadian market for bookcases.

The company was ahead of its time in other areas as well as this was the first building in Stratford to be fitted with a sprinkler system for fire control. The system was gravity fed via a 30,000 gallon water tank that resided on the roof of the original building. While the water tank has since been removed and the system updated, much of the plumbing you see overhead dates from the original installation.

In 1926, after experiencing some financial difficulties, Globe Wernike sold the business to the Preston family. Under the name of Preston-Noelting Ltd. the company continued in the furniture business and added business stationery as one of their lines. During the depression the company resorted to building more unusual items like chicken incubators and carpet sweepers in order to survive. After a split between business partners Preston-Noelting Ltd. became Prestonia concentrating on the production of office stationery when metal office furniture became the vogue after the war. They continued to operate in the building until the early 1990,s when the building was purchased by Sandon Cox for his machine shop and automation businesses, National Engineering & Science Associates and Jones Manufacturing.


Ahead of it’s time, the building is the first in Stratford to have a sprinkler system installed. While not unusual to find in today’s buildings, in the early 1900’s the McGuire Sprinkling System had the reputation of being one of the most up-to-date yet invented.

Steel fire doors throughout the original building are held open by counter weights connected to the door by a chain. The chain contains a fire link made of soft metal with a low melting point. Should the temperature in the building reach a significant degree the link will melt, release the weights and the door will roll down the sloped track closing off the opening and slowing the spread of fire.

Rennovations include updating this system to consider current fire prevention understanding. Upgraded exits and early warning systems increase the safety of the building and are a showcase for modern standards in adaptive commercial real estate.

The company, under its president Mr. JJ Mason, is in full production manufacturing office desks, filing cabinets and “elastic” bookcases. The “elastic” bookcase was a cutting edge modular design not seen before that time that allowed the filing systems of a company to expand as needed. A stationery division made folders, guides, box files and transfer cases.

Building on it's innovative history, Factory163 proposes elastic workspaces. A community of modular workspaces with varying ammenities custom to each members needs.

Factory163, where exploring new ideas comes naturally.


Globe Wernicke Co. of Cincinnati, Ohio, an American based furniture company, buys four acres of land in Stratford’s east end at 163 King Street and builds a three story factory consisting of 45,000 square feet