Front View of Thomas House

Ward-Thomas Museum

Ohio Association of Historical Societies and Museums

Five images of buildings and grounds

Benjamin Franklin Pew.

Ward — Thomas Museum
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503 Brown Street Niles, Ohio 44446

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Benjamin F. Pew

Benjamin Franklin Pew.
Besides being one of the oldest businessmen of Niles, Benjamin Franklin Pew has been one of the most constructive factors in the development of the city.

Mr. Pew was born April 10, 1850, at Lordstown, about four miles from the present city of Niles, a son of Horace and Nancy Ann (Osborne) Pew. His grandfather, Thomas Pew, was a prominent pioneer character in Trumbull County, establishing his home in Warren Township, 2-1/2 miles from Warren.

Horace Pew, who was born and reared on his father’s farm there, continued to be identified with agriculture until 1865, when he and John Ohl became partners in a general mercantile business at Niles under the name of Pew, Ohl & Company. After 1873 he removed to Cleveland, where he spent his last days.

Benjamin had three brothers, C.S. Pew, Horace C. Pew, Marlan Pew and two sisters, Mrs. Gertrude Pew Robinson and Miss Mildred Pew. He lived at 627 North Main Street. He originally resided at the old Pew home 234-236 West Park Avenue now occupied by the Harry D. Evans and John B. Evans families.

Benjamin F. Pew was reared in the home farm owned by his father, now included in the corporation limits of Niles. He had a public school education, and when only 15 years of age was made the responsible manager of the store in which his father was a partner, operating the second general store in Niles in the building on State Street now occupied by the McDowell drug store.

This business transacted sales to the value of between $75,000 and $100,000 a year. It and many other concerns went down in the Panic of 1873, and Benjamin F. Pew was compelled to begin all over again.


The home of B. F. Pew and later of his daughter, Mrs. Edna Caldwell.

The home of B. F. Pew and later of his daughter, Mrs. Edna Caldwell. PO2.342

Seen in the picture are, Mr. B. F. Pew, his wife Sarah and their daughter, Edna Pew Caldwell.

The house stood at the corner of North Main and Madison and was built as a three family dwelling, with two apartments on the second floor.

As noted in the 1919 directory, living in the house at 629 North Main, were: B.F. Pew and wife, Sarah (Harris) Pew, Frank W. and Edna (Pew) Caldwell, daughter of B.F. and Sarah Pew, and Hannah Harris, widowed mother of Sarah Pew.

Apparently each family had their own living quarters at 627 North Main Street. Mrs. Caldwell lived there all her adult life and one of the apartments upstairs may have been for her and her husband.

Hannah Harris was the wife of James Harris, pioneer iron manufacture with Harris-Blackford Company. They raised their 7 children in Niles, living at the old Harris house on the southwest comer of West Park and South Main.

That building later became the location of Niles Trust Company and the first mini-skyscraper in Niles. It should also be noted that two of Mrs. Pew's brothers, Charles and Alfred Harris, invented the first commercial offset press in 1895.

Mrs. Caldwell lived all her life in the house and upon her death bequeathed the house to the Methodist Church who sold it to developers, who put in a strip plaza (now vacant).

For the next ten years he was in the livery business and in 1884, thirty-six years ago, engaged in the retail grocery business, which he has continued to the present time. Mr. Pew was a grocer in Niles for 62 years.

The store was in the building which housed the Bahm Brothers clothing store on East State Street. Mr. Pew retired from the grocery business before his death in October 1924.

Location of B.F. Pew grocery store on East State Street.

Location of B.F. Pew grocery store at 41 Furnace (East State) Street.
It later became Baum's Shoe Center on State Street. PO1.126

location of the Pew grocery

Red arrow indicates location of the Pew grocery
store on East State Street. PO7.98


The Jennings house on the corner was one of the first three houses built in 1894-1895.

The Jennings house on the corner was one of the first three houses built in 1894-1895. PO1.492

August 15, 1916 advertisement for lots in the Pew Addition.

August 15, 1916 advertisement for lots in the Pew Addition. The office location is on State Street.

At the time of the purchase, the entire section of Niles, north of Federal Street, was pasture land. It included Franklin, East Madison and Charles, now East Woodland. (Benjamin Pew’s middle name was Franklin.)

Since he was a young man, he has been interested in the real estate business. Mr. Pew bought 50 acres of land from the Eaton estate and laid it out as the Pew addition.

At the time he made the purchase, the entire north section was mere pastureland. Mr. Pew plotted the land and set out the trees. A saw mill was built, and the lumber was seasoned for three houses. From then on houses began to be built in the Pew addition.


Union Cemetery Bill of Sale with

Union Cemetery Bill of Sale with
B.F. Pew's signature.

Mr. Pew and R.G. Sykes were the chief organizers and assumed most of the responsibilities in connection with the first Board of Trade at Niles. This organization, with Mr. Pew as leader, had much to do with attracting some of the early industries to the city, and it also planned and carried out the campaign resulting in a waterworks and lighting system.

These undertakings were carried out against the general apathy or active opposition of many local citizens. While the first Board of Trade practically revolved around the energies of these two men, the subsequent Boards of Trade and the present Chamber of Commerce were born out of the ashes of the Pew-Sykes organization.

In all of the later business organizations, Mr. Pew has been an indefatigable worker, and his willingness to aid has been counted as one of the chief instruments in making Niles a prosperous manufacturing and commercial center. He served as president and secretary of the second Board of Trade, and as an active member of the present Niles Chamber of Commerce.

Benjamin J. Pew was also active in the landscaping of Union Cemetery and was a member of the Cemetery Board of Trustees. The deed below shows his signature as a Trustee of the cemetery.


Residence of Dr. J. R. Hoffman, brother of Homer Hoffman who owned Hoffman's Dept. Store.

Residence of Dr. J. R. Hoffman, brother of Homer Hoffman who owned Hoffman's Dept. Store. The barn and windmill were actually part of the B.F. Pew property. Mr. Pew raised racehorses as a hobby. This house at 619 North Main is still standing. PO1.429

The tower home at 619 North Main Street as it appeared in 2013.

The tower home at 619 North Main Street as it appeared in 2013.

Demise of Another Landmark.
Residence of Dr. Henry Hoffman, dentist in Niles
during the early 1900's, brother of Homer Hoffman who owned Hoffman’s Department Store. The barn and windmill were actually part of the B.F. Pew property. This house at 619 North Main is still standing.

The photograph above shows the condition of the tower home at 619 North Main Street in June 2022.

The photograph above shows the condition of the tower home at 619 North Main Street in June 2022.

There are plans to demolish this once stately residence due to
its decrepit condition and prime location on North Main Street.


 

 

 


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