Victor And The Nipper Building
The Nipper Building was built by the Victor Talking Machine Company as its manufacturing area. It started from being a small machine shop in 1901 and then it grew into a massive 58-acre complex by 1929.
The Victor Company, which earned the moniker “a city within the city of Camden,” was built with 31 buildings. The Nipper Building, otherwise referred to as Building 17, is the most famous building in the complex.
The Stained Glass Windows
When people think about the whole Victor complex in Camden, they would easily identify it with the stained glass windows. These windows, which had been attributed for the building’s popularity, depict the “My Master’s Voice” painting by British artist Francis Barraud.
According to a story, Barraud’s brother died and left his dog under Barraud’s care. When he was playing his phonograph, the dog was seen as listening closely and thinking that he was hearing his master’s voice. Barraud thought the scene looked like an interesting subject and decided to capture it through painting.
Fate Of The Buildings
RCA bought the Victor company in 1929. Then in the 80s, it sold the company to General Electric. By 1993, all original buildings of the Victor company suffered from abandonment. Some of the buildings were torn down. Others were turned into different spaces such as soccer fields for Rutgers-Camden students.
Even after it was abandoned, the Nipper Building sat untouched and empty for a period of 10 years. Nobody wanted it to go simply because of its look and historic presence.
What happened to the windows?
Atop and on all four sides of the former RCA Victor building are identical stained glass windows that bear the popular trademark “Nipper” which is a white terrier with brown ears. After being installed in 1916, RCA Victor decided to remove the four windows and adopt a new logo. Ten years later, the company returned the Nipper logo and commissioned the Philadelphia company, the same company that built the originals, to craft the second set of windows.
Subsequent vandalism had caused the second set of windows to be dismantled and replaced by a third set which had no frame. This same set is the one which remains nestled atop the tower.
In 2004, the $75 million transformation of the RCA Building 17 was finally completed. However, the individual glass panels started to blow into the building’s interior some time later. It was said that the wind, water, and pigeons have caused the internal frames to become weaker thereby making them unable to hold the panels in place.
A Permanent Exhibit
The grand reopening of the Camden County Historical Society Museum on May 15, 2016 also marked the 100th anniversary year of the installation of the circular Nipper windows. In celebration of the anniversary and reopening, the well-loved Nipper window was highlighted in the exhibit. Today, the public can view the restored window as a permanent exhibit in the museum.