Erector Square was first established as a toy factory in 1923 by A. C. Gilbert. The classic Erector Set, American Flyer model trains and other toys were produced here by Gilbert Toys until the factory’s closing in 1967.  Erector Square was then repurposed into one of the largest studio complexes of its kind with over 175 studios in eight buildings. It is now home to a community of established and emerging artists, architects, musicians, designers, dance, theater and fitness professionals.

A.C. Gilbert and the Erector Set

A.C. Gilbert and an Erector Set ferris wheel

Erector Square was first established as a toy factory in 1923 by the A. C. Gilbert Company. Gilbert developed the Erector Set, a construction toy, in 1913. Gilbert’s claimed his inspiration was steel construction girders used on the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad. Erector Sets would continue to be sold under the Gilbert name through 1976, firmly cementing the popular sets as an iconic toy for generations of children.

In 1918, during World War I, the Council of National Defense considering a ban on toy production. Gilbert argued successfully against it, giving him the nickname “The man who saved Christmas.”

In 1923, Gilbert moved his operations to Peck Street in New Haven at the current site of Erector Square.

Erector Square with a “Hall of Science” showroom set up along Peck Street

In 1938, Gilbert acquired the rights to the American Flyer toy train line and began manufacturing his new model train line in New Haven. This now added model trains to the Erector set, magic sets, chemistry sets, microscope sets, other educational toys and home appliances to the Gilbert product line, all manufactured at Erector Square.

Model Builders, c.1950, probably in the top floor of Building 6E/6W

During World War II, Building 1 was repurposed to product parachutes for the war effort. Later, a gallery in Building 1 would be called “The Parachute Gallery” in an allusion to this history.

Development as Art Studios

Manufacturing continued at Erector Square until 1967 when Gilbert Toys went out of business. The buildings were sold to Gardella, a family from Norwalk, CT, who started to subdivide the floors and rent them out to artists. Gardella gave the name “Erector Square” to the site in a nod to its history as the place where the Erector Set was manufactured for so many years.

In 1998 Erector Square artists were some of the first to participate in Artspace‘s annual City Wide Open Studios event. Erector Square has participated annually in the event since that first year, with 2023 marking the first year Erector Square artists have self-presented Open Studios.

A group of the exhibiting artists at ES Open Studios 2023. Photo by Amelia Ingraham

In 2004 the property was sold to Cappy Amodio who continued the renovation. The building remains with the Amodio family today.

Currently, Buildings 1-8 (out of an 11-building complex) have been renovated into studios, with newly renovated spaces on the top floor of Building 6E just opened in 2023.

Renovation of the top floor of Building 6

About this Website

This site was developed in an effort to introduce Erector Square studios to new audiences, build the reputation of Erector Square as a cultural destination and create a network within the Erector Square community itself! The site was created and coded by Eric March, a painter, teacher and web developer in Building 5.

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Your contribution will help make this site shine! This site is a labor of love, but your support will help me give it even more love (and time).

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Select a number on the map below to see all the studios in that building and directions on how to enter and where to park. Please note that most studios take visitors by appointment only. Contact information for each studio is in their studio profile.

Accessibility: There is a handicap ramp on the side of Building 2 and building 3 from the main parking area. Building 3 ramp will give access to buildings 3, 6E, 7 and 5 (first floors only). Building 2 ramp accesses Building 2 (first floor only). Building 4 is ground level. Building 8 has a ramp to the first floor of Bregamos.