Residence of Nancy Fretz

329 West 19th Street

East 7th Street Kiblinger Plant Historic View

329 West 19th Street was originally home to the Fretz Family in the 19th century. The simple frame home was the residence of several generations of this working class family. Among them was Nancy Fretz who was born in this home in 1871. Nancy went to work for the Eckhart Carriage Company before 1900 to work as an upholster at a time when women in factory conditions were rare, but not unheard of. Some particular jobs related to the industry required knowledge of sewing which most women were taught to do at a young age during that era.

Nancy Fretz

Nancy Fretz made the transition to the Auburn Automobile Company with the Eckharts, and may have been their first female employee for the new business venture of making automobiles. Family remembers recall Nancy Fretz was of a small and demure stature that allowed her to move about nimbly within the interiors of the carriages and automobiles to complete the upholstery work. It was said she would hold tacks in her mouth while working and spit them out to tack the fabric into place. Nancy remained with the Auburn Automobile Company until retiring at the time of the plant’s closing in 1937. She never married and continued to reside in the home of her birth here where she died at the age of 91 in 1962.

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