Sylvania traces its roots back to 1901, when young entrepreneur Frank Poor became a partner in a small company in Middleton, Mass. that renewed burned-out light bulbs. Poor soon moved the business to Danvers, bought out his partner and called his new company Bay State Lamp Company. His brother Edward soon joined the company. By 1909 they had started Hygrade Incandescent Lamp Company to sell new carbon-filament light bulbs and by 1911, tungsten filament light bulbs. Also in 1911, brother Walter Poor joined the enterprise. In 1916, Hygrade opened a new plant and headquarters in Salem. They purchased the site of two burned-out tanneries at the corner of Boston and Bridge Streets and built the first of what would be two major manufacturing facilities in the city. The building on the corner of Boston and Bridge Streets has since been demolished and is the site of a planned development that will include a new senior center. The other site, in South Salem, is now part of Salem State University's Central Campus.
In Pennsylvania, the Novelty Incandescent Lamp Company (later, Nilco) formed in 1906. In 1924, Nilco formed the Sylvania Products Company to make receiving tubes for radios. By 1931, Hygrade, Nilco and Sylvania merged to form Hygrade Sylvania Corporation. The company sold lamps under the Hygrade name and radio tubes under the Sylvania name.
The company built the Sylvan Street plant in Danvers in 1941 to manufacture fluorescent lamps. In 1942, the company changed its name to Sylvania Electric Products, Inc. In 1959, Sylvania merged with General Telephone. The new company became known as General Telephone & Electronics, and later, GTE.
Osram Sylvania in its current form was created in January 1993, when Osram GmbH acquired the Sylvania and precision materials businesses in North America from GTE.
A portrait of founder Frank Poor, who died in 1956, now hangs in the lobby of the Hawthorne Hotel. He was instrumental in the fundraising and building of the historic hotel, which was built entirely with money raised by the local business community and others.
Sylvania History of the company
The Sylvania Beam Fiftieth Anniversary Issue; 1901-1951
"Portrait links Salem then and now" Salem News, June 20, 2011, p. ?