Front View of Thomas House

Ward-Thomas Museum

Ohio Association of Historical Societies and Museums

Five images of buildings and grounds

Melillo Barber Shop

Ward — Thomas Museum
Home of the Niles Historical Society
503 Brown Street Niles, Ohio 44446

Click here to become a Niles Historical Society Member or to renew your membership

Return to the Homepage

Click on any photograph to view a larger image.

 

Email Us

Phone: 330.544.2143
Mail: PO Box 368 Niles, Ohio 44446

Individual Membership: $20.00
Family Membership: $30.00
Patron Membership: $50.00
Business Membership: $100.00
Lifetime Membership: $500.00
Corporate Membership:
Call 330.544.2143


Do you love the history of Niles, Ohio and want to preserve that history and memories of events for future generations?

Click here to donate:

As a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, your donation is tax deductible. When you click on the Donate Button, you will be taken to a secure Website where your donation will entered and a receipt generated.


 

 

 

 

 

The building at the corner of Cedar and Robbins, where the Elder&Hey drug store was located, was built in 1929.

The building at the corner of Cedar and Robbins, where the Elder&Hey drug store was located, was built in 1929. Photo ca 1955.

Pictured in the barbershop on the lower level of Elder’s Drugstore is Phil Melillo and unknown customer.

Pictured in the barbershop on the lower level of Elder’s Drugstore is Phil Melillo and unknown customer.

Phil Melillo's barber license.

Phil Melillo's barber license.

Pictured L-R: Joe Mordent, Joe Vigorito, and Philip Melillo.

Pictured L-R: Joe Mordent, Joe Vigorito, and Philip Melillo.

Three Melillo Generations - As told by Phillip Melillo.
Daily Times, 1967 by Ellison Nye

Probably not too many area men remember when the refrain ‘Shave and a haircut-Two bits’ was more than just a catchy musical phrase. But longtime Niles resident Phillip Melillo does!

Recently retired after a 57-year career as a local barber, back in 1910, when he opened his first barber shop on Pratt Street- that familiar phrase was a fact. A shave cost but 10 cents in those days and a haircut was 15 cents “and I remember that I usually did more shaves than haircuts for some reason – maybe men were wearing their hair longer then,” he reminisces.
“That really wasn’t too bad a price,” he adds. “Since the rent for my shop was only $8 a month and everything else was comparable”.

Melillo, whose understandably well-groomed hair is now white, but still has the expressive dark-brown eyes of a Neopolitan, was born in Corleto Monferte, Italy near Naples.
He left there as a boy of 16, journeying with others from the same village by ship to New York City, but traveling alone by train to the home of his sister, the late Mrs. Andre Vigorito, in Niles.

After a brief stint working in a brickyard here and in a boiler factory in Warren, “I just picked up the barbering trade- you didn’t go to school then to learn it.”

This was a career he has followed, with the exception of a quick excursion into and out of the restaurant business in 1929, for the remainder of his business years.

He gave up the Pratt Street shop in 1920 to work for another barber for four years and a partnership arrangement with still another barber for five years. After six months of operating a restaurant on State Street, he opened his own barbershop again in the basement of the Elder and Hey drugstore at the corner of Robbins Avenue and Cedar Street. He moved to his last business site at 509 Robbins Avenue (built in 1890) in 1936.

Fifty years ago last December 30th, he married Miss Rose Bianco of McKinley Heights in Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in 1916 when she was 16 and he was 26 and they lived and raised their family in the roomy house next to and behind his place of business. Walking to work for Phillip meant merely sliding open a convenient door connecting his shop with the entry hall of his home.

That ‘open-door policy’ still exists, for their eldest son, Frank Melillo, who has been associated with his father for a number of years, in the operation of the shop, now manages the business.

Phillip and Rose had five children: Frank, William, Angie, and Raymond named for his brother Ray who passed away when he was five years old. Operating the barbershop in the same location today is Mike Melillo, grandson of Phillip Melillo and son of Raymond Melillo.

Their only daughter, Angie, opened a beauty shop in quarters matching the barber shop but on the opposite side of the porch and entry to her paren's home.

Another son is Major William Melillo, U.S.A.F., now stationed in Abilene, Texas, and their youngest son, Raymond Melillo, who was born a few months after the death of his five-year-old brother and namesake, is a field engineer for a Youngstown firm.

Over forty years a member of the Barber’s Union, Local No. 184, Melillo has been a secretary since 1939 of the Bella Napoli Lodge, Niles and is a member of the East End Club.
Other than an increase in the scope of his usual summer gardening activities and the possibility of a second trip back to Italy (his first was in 1947 when he flew over for a three-and-a half month visit) the veteran barber’s plans for retirement are to enjoy the time with his friends and family.


Mike Melillo is the barber today and owner of his grandfather’s house and barbershop business which still stands today.

Mike Melillo is the barber today and owner of his grandfather’s house and barbershop business which still stands today.

509 Robbins Avenue, ca 1980.

Pictured R-L: Joe Russo who ran the Pennzoil gas station across the street from the barbershop, Ray Melillo and Pat Cera.

Pictured R-L: Joe Russo who ran the Pennzoil gas station across the street from the barbershop, Ray Melillo and Pat Cera.

Pat Cera and Ray Melillo were cousins who jointly owned the barbershop from late 50s to early 80s.

 

Phil Melillo's son,

Phil Melillo's son,
Ray Melillo in his WWII uniform.


Phil Melillo moved to his last business site at 509 Robbins Avenue (built in 1890) in 1936.

Phil Melillo moved to his last business site at 509 Robbins Avenue (built in 1890) in 1936.

509 Robbins Avenue, 2020.

 

NILES — Michael R. Melillo, 64, of Niles, passed away Wednesday, November 24, 2021, at the Cleveland Clinic.

He was born April 6, 1957, in Warren, the son of Ray and Jean Walden Melillo.

Mike was a 1975 graduate of Niles McKinley High School and owned and operated the Men’s Union Barbershop as well as the adjoining beauty shop, Hair Design by Michael.

Mike deeply loved the city of Niles, and he was a beloved fixture of the community. For the last almost 40 years, he could be found daily at his Robbins Avenue barbershop — an establishment built by Mike’s immigrant grandfather, Phillip Melillo in the 1930s.

He was a lifelong member of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Parish in Niles and was a proud Italian-American. His world revolved around his family and nothing pleased him more than to be surrounded by his adoring grandkids.


 

 

 


  Copyright©2008-2022, Niles Historical Society, All rights reserved
  Back to top