NATIONAL CARBON CO., an early leader in continuous industrial research, originated in 1881 when W. H. Boulton, a foreman at Brush Electric, formed a partnership with Willis H. Masters to supply carbon for arc lights. Five years later, WASHINGTON H. LAWRENCE, an associate of CHARLES F. BRUSH, invested in the Boulton Carbon Co. to reorganize it as the National Carbon Co. and acquired the Boulton plant on Willson (E. 55th St.) Ave. Under Lawrence's guidance, the company purchased the carbon department of the Brush Electric Co. in 1891 and by 1906 had acquired more than 20 other carbon and battery companies, including the maker of Eveready brand batteries. The firm had plants at W. 73rd St., the New York Central Railroad, and at Madison Ave. at W. 117th St. in LAKEWOOD, producing carbon for lighting, drycarbon batteries, dynamo and motor brushes, and telephone transmitters. The National Carbon office building on Madison Ave. (completed 1896, demolished 1992) was a handsome Romanesque building designed by Cleveland architects KNOX & ELLIOT. National Carbon was instrumental in developing employee housing immediately west of the factory site in the Lakewood neighborhood known as BIRD'S NEST. When National Carbon was purchased in 1917 by Union Carbide & Carbon Corp., it had one of the most extensive industrial research laboratories in the nation. In the 1920s its laboratory made contributions to the field of electrochemical research under the leadership of GEORGE HEISE. National Carbon's products grew to include Eveready Batteries for flashlights, radios, Prestone antifreeze, and plastic products. In 1986, the company sold its Eveready Batteries division to St. Louis-based Ralston Purina Co. for $1.4 billion.
National Carbide was wholly-owned by Union Carbide until 1991, when 50% of its common equity was sold to the Mitsubishi Corp. of Japan. The Grafoil subsidiary of the UCAR Carbon Co., Inc., continued to operate on a portion of the original National Carbon Co. property at 11709 Madison Ave. In 1993, Advanced Ceramics Corp. (a company unaffiliated with UCAR) purchased a portion of the original Madison Ave. plant to open a production facilty at 11907 Madison for the manufacture of customized ceramic components for the electronics, aerospace, and other specialized industries.