American Precision Museum

September 26, 2023

We are proud supporters of the American Precision Museum (APM) in Windsor, Vermont. Many of our industry peers and suppliers are also supporters. The nonprofit APM was founded in 1966, but the history of the building dates back much longer.

APM describes itself:

For over 170 years, the men and women of Windsor’s Robbins & Lawrence Armory shaped America’s destiny by pioneering technological innovation, improving manufacturing processes, and increasing the use of labor saving machines. Using precision metal and wood cutting machines and high standards of accuracy, Robbins & Lawrence proved the effectiveness of developing and producing interchangeable parts that ultimately, would be known as the “American System.”

Housed in the original Robbins & Lawrence Armory since 1966 and designated a National Historic Landmark, APM holds the largest collection of historically-significant machine tools in the nation. The museum seeks to:

  • Preserve the heritage of the mechanical arts
  • Celebrate the ingenuity of our mechanical forebears
  • Explore the effects of their work on our everyday lives

The American Precision Museum combines the atmosphere of an original 19th century factory building with a world-class collection of historic machines. The 1846 armory building, the “Shaping America” exhibition and accompanying programs explore industrial history in the context of innovation, creative problem solving, and the impact of precision manufacturing on American history and culture.

Scott Livingston, HORST Engineering’s president, made a recent visit to the museum and was blown away by the qualify of the exhibits and the educational opportunities that come from understanding the importance of New England’s industrial heritage. The Connecticut River Valley from Windsor, Vermont in the north to New Haven, Connecticut in the south came to be known as “Precision Valley.” It included the historically important manufacturing centers of Springfield, Vermont;  Bellows Falls, Vermont; Greenfield, Massachusetts; Springfield, Massachusetts; and Hartford, Connecticut. Adjacent communities included North Adams, Massachusetts; Worcester, Massachusetts; and Bridgeport, Connecticut. Seeing this collection of pioneering machines, tools, and gages in one place is remarkable.

Though HORST Engineering’s founding in Hartford was only in 1946, the company participated in the late phase of Precision Valley’s success. When Harry Livingston (aka Horst Liebenstein) started our company, he did a lot of engineering, tool & die work, and machining for the big industries in Connecticut including the typewriter industry and the firearms industry. He specifically did a lot of work for the Underwood Typewriter Company and the Royal Typewriter Company. Both businesses had manufacturing operations in Hartford. His own apprenticeship in metalworking started in Germany in the 1920’s era bicycle industry and exercise equipment industry. The APM features the importance of bicycles, typewriters, firearms, and watches to the development of the American System of manufacturing.

This system changed the world and set the foundation for what would become the advanced manufacturing industry in New England. Advanced manufacturing includes the industries that we specialize in today, including aerospace, defense, medical, power generation, and ultra precision industrial tooling. After his recent visit, Scott Livingston noted one highlight. He said, “Seeing the first production Bridgeport Knee Mill, serial number 1, was awesome.”

A visit to the American Precision Museum is highly recommended. Be on the lookout for special exhibits. One current pop up exhibit is about female spies, including Virginia Hall, who were instrumental in World War II and the period following the war. She was written about in the acclaimed book, A Woman of No Importance. Additionally, please consider supporting the museum through memberships and donations.

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