Goodbye, Linoleumville. Hello…Melvin?

Well, almost Melvin. Here’s an article that documents the renaming of the town that had the first Linoleum manufacturing operation in America… 

Time Magazine, Dec. 30, 1930

 National Affairs: In Linoleumville

A group of fastidious Canadians at Medicine Hat, Alberta, once decided that the name of their town was too barbarous. They sent a letter to a great poet and asked him to suggest a new one. The poet advised them to keep the one they had. They did. Unlike the Medicine Hatters, a large block of the citizenry of Linoleumville, Staten Island (pop.: 2,200), dissatisfied with their town’s name, chose not to write to a famed poet for advice but to settle the question by ballot. Last week they did. Proposed were ten names (although any citizen was privileged to suggest any other name he fancied): Linoleumville, Travis, Melvin, Victory Heights, Scotstown, Berkley, Long Neck, Travisville, Mellburg, Carteret.

The town, situated on the west shore of Staten Island, was first called Long Neck, but the post office address was discontinued in 1866. In 1873 appeared Joseph Wild Co., later becoming American Linoleum Manufacturing Co. First superintendent of the factory was a man named Melvin. Later two communities sprang up, Travisville (after an early settler) and Linoleumville. Subsequently the post office address of both places was called Linoleumville, becoming a part of New York City in 1898.

As the balloting got underway last week at the Atlantic Hook & Ladder firehouse there were three main schools of thought. Spokesman for the Travis faction said, somewhat erroneously: “Now the name of these diggings was Travisville in the beginning. That’s his story anyway. Travis was an old ship captain and from what I hear he was some boy. Let’s stick to the old name of Travisville, but let’s cut off the ville. That sounds too much like a hick place. . . . Imagine going into some of them big Manhattan department stores to buy and giving your home address as Linoleumville!”

Said the leader of the Melvin cabal: “Old man Melvin brought the linoleum factory here over 50 years ago. He did a great deal for the community. . . . They say Travis was a ship’s captain who gave a bell to the Methodist Church. Well, I like Melvin and that’s what my gang is voting for.”

Die-hards wanted to retain Linoleumville because, they claimed, out of the town of that name went more men to the War than from any other U. S. town its size.

After a spirited torchlight procession and the display of such banners as “It Won’t Cost You Anything To Change The Name,” the votes were cast. Results: Linoleumville, 4: Melvin. 58; Travis, 333.