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Steel Car Company

Stylized Pullman-Standard Mural

The Standard Steel Car Company was founded by John Hansen and “Diamond” Jim Brady in 1902. The partners aimed to build a factory that was a half mile long: reportedly the longest building under one roof in the world. The idea was that Standard would manufacture every part of their freight cars except the wheels right in their own plant.

Hansen cobbled together a large enough parcel of land by purchasing sections of the Fairgrounds, the Pickle factory, Duffy’s Meadow, Stamm’s Brickyard, and the McGinley Property. While Hansen was acquiring property, Jim Brady got busy securing orders. The day groundbreaking was held for the Standard factory, Brady had lined up orders for 6,000 railroad cars. 

As Standard grew, so did the plant’s need for workers. To provide housing for new laborers and their families, the partners built one hundred houses on land purchased from farmer John McElroy. Hansen named this fledgling town Lyndora after his daughter, Lynda, and his wife, whose nickname was Dora. The company later constructed fifty cooperative apartments adjacent to the factory. These apartments soon became known as “Red Row” because the builders used red boxcar paint on the clapboard houses.

In 1911, Standard ventured into the automobile business by creating a state-of-the-art car factory.  The next year, they introduced their luxury touring car: the Standard Eight, Monarch of the Mountains. The Standard Eight came in four models priced between $2,300 and $2,600, a very high price point at the time. Standard produced “The Eight” until 1921.

Mural Details


Christopher Lovelady


Butler Co. Historical Society


201 W Vogeley St, Butler, PA

In 1929, John Hansen visited the French branch of the Standard Steel Car Company, built during World War I. While in France, Hansen suffered a fatal heart attack. By the end of the year, the Standard Eight Auto factory was sold to the American Austin Car Company, and the Standard Steel Car Company merged with Pullman, creating the Pullman Standard Car Company.

Pullman-Standard was purchased in 1980 by Wheelabrator-Frye Incorporated. The purchase brought hope to many in Butler regarding the future of the company and area employment.  Foreshadowing what was to come, Wheelabrator-Frye laid off five hundred employees in late 1981, then closed the plant in early 1982. Today the Pullman Center Shopping Plaza occupies the site of the Standard Steel Car Company.

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