Front View of Thomas House

Ward-Thomas Museum

Ohio Association of Historical Societies and Museums

Five images of buildings and grounds

Republic Steel Plant Origins

Ward — Thomas Museum
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503 Brown Street Niles, Ohio 44446

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Postcard of the Empire Steel Plant.

Postcard of the Empire Steel Plant.

Photo and signature of Jacob D. Waddell.

Photo and signature of Jacob D. Waddell. PO1.1116

Republic Steel Plant Origins
Jonathan Warner was born in 1865 in Mineral Ridge, Ohio. His parents were Jacob Warner (1806—1910) and Maria Lewis (1846). He graduated from The Rayen School in Youngstown and attended Williams College where he dropped out in his junior year to work for the Falcon Iron Co. in Niles. In 1891 he married Mary Ward (1870-1906) of New Castle, Pa. They had a daughter Elizabeth (1893-1971) who married Edward Ford Clarke.

In 1895 he helped organize the Struthers Sheet Mill which later became part of the US Steel Corporation.

In 1907 he purchased the Empire Iron and Steel mills in Niles, Ohio which later became the Brier Hill Steel Co. He founded the Trumbull Steel Co. in 1912 and built the first strip mills in the area. The Trumbull Steel Co., was located in Warren, Ohio and employed more than 6000 men. In 1919 he purchased the Liberty Steel Co. near Leavittsburg.

Historical documentation indicates that steel goods were manufactured on the Trumbull Steel Company 26–acre property from 1908 to 1920.

The property is supported by infrastructure and occupied by four structures including a main
building complex, a general storage building and former locker room, and a small natural gas
building that houses gauges and piping belonging to the gas company. In the last three years,
most of the buildings have been upgraded to good condition by the current owner.

Jonathan Warner owned a home on Wick Avenue and in 1919 he purchased 325 acres of land on what is now Warner Rd in Liberty Township and built a mansion and a farm where he bred prize cattle.

Jacob D. Waddell (1870–1939)

He organized and headed the Mahoning Valley Steel Company with W. A. Thomas and Thomas E. Thomas (brother of W.A. Thomas). In 1924 he resigned his position to purchase and restore the old Empire Mill (demolished during the Depression).

Mr. Waddell continued his leadership in Niles serving as President of the Niles Bank Company and first Director of the Mahoning Valley Sanitary District.

In 1931, Jacob and Mary Waddell donated land to the city of Niles for Waddell Park.

Niles Industrial Plants 1900-1930


Empire Iron & Steel Company was organized in 1902 by Wade A. Taylor, Charles S. Thomas and John O'Dea.

Empire Iron & Steel Company was organized in 1902 by Wade A. Taylor, Charles S. Thomas and John O'Dea.

It was located on the south bank of the Mahoning River east of the Lisbon branch of the Erie RR. It was sold to Jonathan Warner & Associates in 1905

The Empire plant was located on the south bank of the Mahoning River east of the Lisbon branch of the Erie RR. It was sold to Jonathan Warner & Associates in 1905. PO1.514

Picture of the Empire Mill.

Picture of the Empire Mill.
Dated 1909. PO1.516

Empire Steel closed 1931–32.


A photo of the crew at the Empire Steel Mill circa 1920's.

A photo of the crew at the Empire Steel Mill circa 1920's. PO2.725

The 1908 Empire Steel roofing crew with their vice president W. H. Ward.

The 1908 Empire Steel roofing crew with their vice president W. H. Ward. PO2.482

The Empire Iron & Steel Co. located in Niles, Ohio.

The Empire Iron & Steel Company located in Niles, Ohio. PO1.515


Interior view of Empire Steel, 1905.

Interior view of Empire Steel, 1905.

Interior view of Empire Steel, 1905.

Interior view of Empire Steel, 1905.

Interior view of Empire Steel, 1905.

Interior view of Empire Steel, 1905.

Interior view of Empire Steel, 1905.

Interior view of Empire Steel, 1905.

Interior view of Empire Steel, 1905.

Interior view of Empire Steel, 1905.

View of Empire Steel plant during 1913 Flood.

View of Empire Steel plant during 1913 Flood.


Pictured is the DeForest Steel mill in 1916.

Pictured is the Deforest Sheet and Tinplate Company mill in 1916.

Charles S. Thomas, 1914.

How mill owners dressed to go fishing in the 1920s.

 

The Deforest Sheet & Tinplate Company.
The plant was built in 1915 and was the third sheet mill established in Niles. Wade A. Taylor was president and Charles S. Thomas, secretary. “My grandfather C. S. Thomas gained a majority interest in "The Deforest Sheet and Tinplate Company" in 1916. Note the correct name — the ‘f’ is lower case and Tinplate is one word. In 1919 he concluded a deal to sell the company for all cash ($2,000,000.00) to Republic Steel. The deal closed on May 1, 1919.”

Bill Deibel

Purchased by The Republic Iron and Steel Company, the plant was modernized and has since worked steadily, though with reduced operations since the Depression, until the tornado of 1985 destroyed the structure.

“Charles S. Thomas did not long let moss grow in retirement. In June of 1919, barely a month after closing the deal with Republic, he financed and organized the Falcon Steel Company in Niles along with Lloyd Booth, Paul Wick, W. J. Hitchcock and Porter Pollock. Booth became President and Treasurer, Wick Vice President and Secretary– Charles S. Thomas served as a Director.

In December of 1919, along with Jim Campbell, Louis J. Campbell (Jim’s son), Jonathan Warner, W. A. Thomas and several others, Charles S. Thomas helped finance and organize the Electric Alloy Steel Company also in Niles. L. J. Campbell became President and Treasurer, A. E. Adams, Vice President; L. A. Manchester, Secretary; Charles S. Thomas served as a Director.

This was the first mill in the Mahoning Valley to use the electric melting process. (Jim Campbell had organized the Youngstown Sheet & Tube Company in 1900 and was still serving as president at this time. It would seem that this new company may have been established for the benefit of Jim Campbell’s son Lou.)

On July 17, 1919 under a one-inch-tall banner headline “CHARLES SAMUEL THOMAS HEADS NEW MILL”, The Niles Daily News states “Charles Thomas, formerly principal owner of the Deforest Steel works (sic) at Niles, and still the general manager, is to invest about $2,000,000 in a sheet and tinplate works at New Castle. … Mr. Thomas agreed to continue as general manager of the Deforest mill until Republic ‘got on its feet.’ … It is reported that the works will go on a site near Mahoningtown, where there is an abundant water supply, and excellent main line railroad facilities”.

The paper goes on to say “…tentative plans have been made for a 12-mill plant” intended to employ 4,000 men. (The writer can only imagine the reaction of the Republic owners who in buying Deforest enabled Charles Samuel Thomas to build a new plant to directly compete with them about 25 miles away.) Startling as this announcement may seem, nothing ever came of this plan. Charles S. Thomas after building Falcon would not have had $2M of his own money available and may not have been able to get any bankers to back him in this venture. On the other hand, he may just have been ‘messing with the Republic folks’ heads.” –Bill Deibel

How mill owners dressed to go fishing in the 1920s.
Pals and Partners in the good times – C. S Thomas, left and W. A. Thomas right.

Niles Daily News March 29, 1909

Niles Daily News March 29, 1909
The Deforest Steel Company has awarded the contract for additional construction of its ten hot mills to the American Roll and Foundry Company in Canton, Ohio. Work will start Thursday.

Charles Martin has beem appointed superintendant of the hot mills. James Hulse, formerly of Niles, will be given the position of master mechanic in the new plant.

Niles Daily News May 5, 1909

Niles Daily News May 5, 1909
The building operations at the plant of the Deforest Steel Company are already well underway. The main sewer and waterway is about completed and the tile and piping will be laid in a few days.

The construction firm of Riter&Conley shipped in six carloads of structural iron this morning, The erectors have a large force of men on the ground making ready their equipment, raising derricks, and placing the material as fast as it is received.

As soon as the iron work is erected, the bricklayers will commence on the furnaces and foundations for the mills and engines.

Workers laying the paver bricks on North Main Street with the DeForest guard house in the background.

Workers laying the paver bricks on North Main Street with the Deforest guard house in the background. Dated 1909.


Taken on June 28, 1920, this is a view of the preparation work on the foundation for the No. 2 sheet mill.

Taken on June 28, 1920, this is a view of the preparation work on the foundation for the No. 2 sheet mill. PO2.188a

Niles Republic Steel Company.
After 1920, the Property was used as a steel finishing facility. The Property formerly housed the Deforest Sheet and Tinplate Company and the Republic Iron & Steel Company (subsequently LTV Steel) plant works.

LTV Steel sold the Property to Niles Properties, Inc. in 1988 and Gearmar, Inc. took ownership in 2003. BR Group Property, LLC has owned the Property since 2008 and the current occupant is BRT Extrusions Inc.

Former on–site operations have included pickling, annealing, metal stamping and fabrication.
The buildings were most likely used continuously for steel finishing until the steel–finishing
operation ceased in 1976. Current operations include aluminum extrusion and stamping, and
industrial storage until the 1985 tornado.

1937 Little Steel Strike


The Republic Steel Niles Works. The foundation for the machine shop from a northeast view.

The Republic Steel Niles Works. The foundation for the machine shop from a northeast view. Taken June 28, 1920. PO2.190

The foundation for the brick shop from a northwest view.

The foundation for the brick shop from a northwest view. Taken June 28, 1920. PO2.191

This is the general view of Sheet Mill No. 2 upon completion.

General view of Sheet Mill No. 2 upon completion. Taken January 27, 1921. PO2.205

View from the east of the construction of Sheet Mill No. 2.

View from the east of the construction of Sheet Mill No. 2. Taken September 16, 1920. PO2.195

This is showing a section of the 42" sewer laid.

This is showing a section of the 42" sewer laid from steel plant to pump house. Taken May 7, 1920. PO2.197

This is the excavation for the pumphouse foundation.

This is the excavation for the pumphouse foundation. Taken September 16, 1920. PO2.198

This is a view of the pump house on Mosquito Creek.

This is a view of the pump house on Mosquito Creek. Taken January 3, 1921. PO2.209

This is a view of Sheet Mill #2, a general view of storage and shipping bay

This is a view of Sheet Mill #2, a general view of storage and shipping bay. Taken October 25, 1921. PO2.235

This is a view of the Sheet Mill #2, an interior view of the annealing furnace.

This is a view of the Sheet Mill #2, an interior view of the annealing furnace. Taken October 20, 1921. PO2.232

This is a view of the Hot Mill #2.

This is a view of the Hot Mill #2.
Taken March 1, 1921. PO2.227

This is a view of the Galvanizing Dept.-Galvanizing Machine.

This is a view of the Galvanizing Dept.-Galvanizing Machine. Taken April 8, 1921. PO2.219

This is a view of the interior of the Galvanizing Plant.

This is a view of the interior of the Galvanizing Plant. Taken October 25, 1921. PO2.241

Taken on May 7, 1920, this is a view of the Bunk Houses from the west side.

Taken on May 7, 1920, this is a view of the Bunk Houses from the west side. PO2.187

This is the hospital, time office and police station under construction. Taken Dec. 20, 1920.

This is the hospital, time office and police station under construction. Taken Dec. 20, 1920. PO2.191

Niles Republic Steel Plant's four stand, cold-roll, tandem mill. It was on this mill that the first cold roll strip template was rolled in 1937. Cold roll steel strip of any gauge was rolled after tin plate had been discontinued.

Niles Republic Steel Plant's four stand, cold-roll, tandem mill. It was on this mill that the first cold roll strip template was rolled in 1937. Cold roll steel strip of any gauge was rolled after tin plate had been discontinued. PO1.618

This is a view of the interior of the Galvanizing Plant.

Republic Steel aerial view. Dated 1942. PO1.1669

Aftermath of the 1985 tornado destruction of the Niles Republic Steel plant on North Main Street.

1985 tornado destruction of the Niles Republic Steel plant on North Main Street. PO2.163

Aerial view of the Niles Republic Steel plant on North Main Street after 1985 tornado.

Aerial view of the Niles Republic Steel plant on North Main Street after 1985 tornado.



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