Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Letter to the Editor: Keating Wheel Company should be honored as part of Middletown's History

The following letter was left in the form of a comment on our Motorcycle Mania 2014 post. Below resident Gary Keating comments on the history of the Keating Wheel Company now referred to as Remington Rand. Keating discusses why the city owned factory building should revert back to its original moniker. A history of the factory derived from the upcoming book by R.K. Keating can be read at : http://www.keatingwheelcompany.com . There is a short film by Brian Keating available free on the web which also offers historic insight. 

 From what we can tell, one of the few remaining Keating bicycles was last on display locally at The Middlesex Historic Society in June of 1998 in an exhibit entitled "Rum, Rubber, & Rattraps" which showcases locally made turn of the century items. The last surviving original 1902 Keating motorcycle it is claimed is housed at the Keating Wheel Company collection in New Hampshire.  The company was reformed in 1982, and according to their website above, specializes in restoration & preservation of vintage motorcycles. Tell us in the comments what you think!

 Last month at the council meeting Councilman David Bauer proposed  revisiting a list of names historically significant to Middletown for future  to be drawn upon for future street names; as of yet there is no Keating Street in the city, but perhaps with Keating's book being published, a new light will be shed on this significant piece of history in our own backyard.Thanks for the history lesson Mr. Keating! If you have an insight into a forgotten piece of M-town history send us a letter.

Its hard to beleive that the city of Middletown leaders can support this great event but continually ignore Middletown's history in the development of the motorcycle as a means of daily transportation. 

The building currently described as the " Remington Rand " building was designed and built in 1896 by Robert M. Keating, for the sole purpose of making world-class bicycles, the most popular mode of transportation at the time. The "Keating Wheel Company" was one of the first factories run by electricity in the USA. The factory made bicycles, then progressed on to develop horseless carriages, cars, trucks, and eventually motorcycles. Robert M.Keating’s patent for a motorcycle in 1901 predates "Indian" by a year!!!!! Keating’s patents in this area allowed motorcycle greats such as Indian and Harley Davidson to develop their own cycles. In fact, Keating sued both companies for patent infringement and won both cases. There needs to be a more concentrated effort by the media, and Middletown officials, to have the buildings original builder and designer acknowledged for his patents, and innovations, and historical significant in Middletown history. The building should be recognized as the "Keating Wheel Company". Robert M.Keating holds a much more romantic, innovative, and historically important role in Middletown's history then Remington Rand!!!!!!! Just because Remington Rand was the last occupier of the building should not limit the buildings true history and its importance in U.S.A. and Middletown history of transportation development.

The point is, Middletown's history and the history of that remarkable historical asset on Johnson street is not about typewriters. It's about 19th century industrial innovation in America. Specifically, it's all about the pioneering efforts that forever changed the nation's transportation history. No exaggeration. Middletown owns that distinction and should celebrate it. With some creative thinking and planning (what Keating would have called "Yankee Ingenuity"), that distinction might also be branded to attract interests (and dollars) towards historic preservation, tourism and economic development.

My two brothers Rob and Brian Keating and I have done extensive research on “Keating”, his building, and his contributions to the history of transportation in the USA. A biography of Robert M. Keating by my brother Rob is currently at the publishers. We would like to see the “Keating Wheel Company” building and “Robert M. Keating” be recognized 
and their place in Middletown and America’s transportation history honored. 

We would like to see the building officially recognized as “The Keating Wheel Company” with a sign or plaque stating the buildings original use and its historical importance. We need your help in this venture, and are asking for your support.

Thank you,

Gary Keating

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