Noakes House Silent Auction Items: Rumford Baking Powder Tin

The reception and silent auction to celebrate the completion of the Samuel Noakes House on March 9 is drawing closer. While we count down until March 9, a number of items that will be available at the auction will be highlighted in the PHW blog.

Unsurprisingly enough, given the Noakes House’s history as both a residence and grocery store in the early 1900s, a number of home products were found in the house. This Rumford Baking Powder tin is tentatively dated circa 1930.

Rumford Chemical Works was founded in 1859 by Eben Horsford and George Wilson, originally to manufacture chemicals for the textile industry. Horsford was also working on improving leavening agents for bread, or baking powder. By the mid-1860’s “Horsford’s Yeast Powder” was packaged in glass bottles. Horsford, however, was interested in using metal cans for packing; this meant the mixture had to be made more moisture resistant. Corn starch was added to the formula to extend its shelf life, and modern baking powder hit store shelves in 1869.

Rumford Chemical Works produced the raw materials, the baking powder, the tins, the labels, and even the shipping crates for their products at their manufacturing base in Rhode Island. The company survived into the 1940s, until the company experienced trouble raising capital. The baking powder division was sold and relocated to Terre Haute, Indiana, and continues production today.

Although the Rumford factories in Rhode Island fell into disrepair, the factory complex is currently being rehabilitated into apartments, condominiums, office space and retail shops.

Rumford Baking Powder was designated National Historic Chemical Landmark on June 12, 2006. Its designation notes “Eben Horsford’s unique formula was an important innovation and made the making of biscuits, cookies and other quick baking products simpler than before.”

Learn more about the history of Rumford Chemical Works, their products, and their buildings at American Chemical Society, The Providence Journal, and

If you’d like to own this piece of history, tickets are still available for both the afternoon and evening reception and silent auction on March 9. The baking powder tin will be part of the afternoon auction items. Reserve your spot online via PayPal, or make your reservation by mailing in a check payable to PHW to 530 Amherst St., Winchester, VA 22601.

Afternoon Showing, 3-5 p.m. – $20 admission

Evening Showing, 6-8 p.m. – $30 admission