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the 54 lots platted in 1834, James and Warren Heaton
owned 23 parcels including the lot at the intersection of South
Main Street and West James Street( now Park Avenue).
From 1842-1865 the Harris House, located on this site, served
as a hotel. It became the Harris family residence from 1865-1905.
From 1905-1929, it was used for businesses. Finally, it was sold
by the Harris heirs and was demolished on August 29, 1929 to make
way for the Niles Trust Company Bank building.
early picture, ca 1895, of South Main Street shows two very old
landmarks. On the left corner is the old Ward residence built
in the early 1840's. After the Wards moved to their new, more
elaborate house on Brown Street, this house was turned into a
hotel and used for this purpose for many years. It was torn down
to make way for the Dollar Bank Building in 1918.
The house on the right was built
in 1842 as a hotel. In 1865 it was purchased by the Harris family
who occupied it until 1905. From then until 1920 it was used as
a store & warehouse.
In 1920, the Harris heirs sold it
to the Niles Trust Co. In 1930, the Niles Bank Building was built
on the site. PO1.912
The first building erected in
1842 on the present site of the Niles Trust Company.
Photo dated September 1866.
Pictured L-R are:
Martha J.Robbins, Sarah A.Pew, Hannah M.Taylor, A.F.Harris,
C.G.Harris, Mrs. James Harris, F.W.Harris and H.J.Harris.
The corner of South Main Street
and West Park Avenue showing the newspaper stand, the Lor-A-Lee
diner in the right-hand back, the tower of the old City Building,
the advertisement is on the side of Krieger's Pool Hall. Later,
Reisman's would build between Krieger's and the bank building.
Photo of newsboys in front of
the Niles magazine and newspaper store at the corner of South
Main Street and West Park Avenue.
Photo taken November 19, 1929
before it was torn down prior to the construction of the Niles
Construction of the Niles Trust
Co. took place beginning in November 25, 1929. A partial record
of the construction process was taken by P.T. Alfonsi,
a photographer in Niles for many years. PO1.17
Construction of the Niles Trust
Company, January 3, 1930. PO1.18
Completed building of the Niles
Trust Company, 1930. PO1.33
Photo of the Harris Automatic
Press Co. located in Niles for many years. Constructed about
1904 with a Board of Ttrade grant of $1500.00 and free site.
Operated until 1914, after a prolonged strike moved operations
to Cleveland. Used as a soup kitchen during the Depression and
dismantled shortly thereafter. PO1.546
The employees of the Harris Automatic
Press Co. around the turn of the previous century. Charles
and Alfred Harris are the fourth and fifth gentlemen
from the right. The house in the picture was the boyhood home
of William McKinley; later it served as the Harris Company's
first plant. The house stood on the site of the proposed reconstruction
of McKinley's home, and the Old Main Ale & Chowder House.
Photo of the crew of the Harris
Automatic Press Co. Man with young boy standing in front of
him is George F. Snyder. PO1.552
Harris Automatic Press Company. This is an architect's
rendering of suggested expansion of the Niles Plant, which never
occurred. The plant was sold in 1914 after a costly and prolonged
strike which forced management to move operations to Cleveland.
Top: an example of the Harris
Automatic Press Company's rotary press. PO1.549
Left: Actual flyer advertisement
for the rotary feed on the rotary press. The company now had
offices in Niles, Ohio, New York City and Chicago.
A Glimpse at the Harris Brothers and their Press.
In 1976 the predecessor of Harris Automatic Press Co. of Niles,
Ohio, Harris Intertype Co. of Cleveland, Ohio, donated the first
automatic feeding press designed and built in 1896 by Charles
and Alfred Harris to the Graphic Arts Gallery of the
Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Most Nilesites have
heard about Alfred and Charles Harris and their invention of the
first offset printing press; but the story, as written by a family
member, recently surfaced.
In 1931 A.F. Harris, son of Alfred F. Harris,
then president of Harris Seybold-Potter Co. of Cleveland, wrote
a story for Graphic Arts, a monthly magazine, which I'd like to
"Many people recently by reason of the fact that this is
the twenty-fifth anniversary of the building of the first commercially
successful offset printing press, have asked me to tell them the
story of the discovery of the offset by my father, A.F. Harris,
and his brother, Chas. G. Harris."
"In 1870 when father was eleven years old, his first job
was in a shoe store in Niles, Ohio. Back of the shoe store was
a work shop equipped with tools which exercised a strange fascination
upon him . When four years later his brother Charles came into
the store, the two boys began in earnest to experiment in making
things in their spare time. They next worked for Thad Ackley,
a jeweler in Warren, Ohio, who possessed an experimental turn
of mind and encouraged their mechanical ingenuity."
"Father then became a watch inspector for a railway company.
During this time he worked with Charles on developing s twenty-four
hour clock. Next they made a nail feeder. In 1889 they became
Niles' only jeweler, but the business was too small to take the
full time of both of them. Consequently, they had ample opportunity
for research and invention, The jewelry store had a back room,
which they quickly converted into a work shop."
"One day Charles Harris watched the installation of a new
platen press in the shop of a local printer named Smith. Smith
was very proud of his new press. Charles remarked that it was
fed by hand, Smith, quick to defend his press, challenged Charles
to perfect an automatic feeder."
"Shortly after this, a wagon drove up before the jewelry
store with a device that looked like a clothes wringer. When father
saw this unloaded, he protested, saying that it was certainly
The driver, however, insisted on leaving it. Later Charles came
into the shop, and rather sheepishly told of his talk with Smith
some time before, and said that he had built an automatic feeder.
The two brothers laughed heartily "at the joke on Smith"."
"One day while Charles was out, father had an inspiration,
and with a yardstick, a saw blade, and a rubber blanket, made
a contrivance that completed the invention Soon sheets were running
through at 15,000 per hour."
"Their first press was a wooden model. During the winter
of 1890 they built an iron model in the machine shop of a friend,
who was located close to the jewelry store. Whenever some part
of the equipment in the machine shop was not busy, the brothers
were permitted to use it. The two worked busily. In the summer
of 1892 Charles, and later Father, went to see the printing exhibits
at the World's Fair in Chicago. Examination of the equipment there
convinced them that they were far ahead of anything so far developed;
so they decided to go into business."
"Their first press of the new company, which was incorporated
in 1895, proved a failure, and so they started all over again.
In 1896 another machine was completed. When it was offered for
sale, no one believed the story they told-- the speed was so much
greater than any press had ever been able to run. When they offered
it to the next man, they made more modest claims with the result
that they sold it."
"Their first job was postcards. They ran 12,500 postcards
in fifty minutes. An all-tine record up to then. Their second
job was an envelope one, and this required four months in order
to perfect the machine so that it would feed them. But, at last
the difficulty was solved and the press accepted. Press then followed
press, in quick succession."
"One day while erecting one of their new automatic presses
in a Cleveland plant, father heard a pressman become very indignant
at one of his operators. The girl had neglected to trip the press
when failing to feed a sheet. The result was an impression on
the rubber blanket. The next sheet through was offset in reverse.
Father and the pressman examined the sheet closely and were particularly
interested in the sharp clear reproduction. Finally the pressman
turned to him and said, 'If we could only print like that!' "
"The result was that Father and his brother set to work to
make it possible to print like that. First, they built a press
with a plate cylinder, impression cylinder, and two offset cylinders.This
press proved that offset printing was possible; but there were
a good many things to learn about it. Experiment followed experiment
until finally the first successful offset press was a reality.
Each succeeding press has been an improvement."
"During the twenty-five years since the installation of the
first commercially successful offset press in Pittsburgh, the
offset process has come to play an ever-increasing part in the
graphic arts, The printers of America contributed immeasurable
to putting the offset process over."
The late Clifton A. Bostwick, who at one time resided
at 136 Salt Springs Road, Niles, worked for Harris Automatic as
an erector and trouble shooter in 1912. At that time Harris Automatic
Press Co. sold a press to Kline, Linderman and Bauer on New York
City and Bostwick was sent to setup the new press before a designated
The press was shipped to Hoboken, New Jersey and ferried across
to New York City on the day the longshoremen went on a one-day
strike. The next day the longshoremen unloaded the press, but
that day the riggers went on strike and another day of the delivery
schedule was lost.
The press was finally delivered to a passenger elevator at Kline,
Linderman and Bauer Co. on Pearl St., near Wall St., in New York
City, where the elevator operator refused to transport it to the
17th floor destination.
After two days of coaxing, with a bribe to make things legal,
the elevator operator relented and the delivery men and Bostwick
proceeded to load the press on the elevator.
To erect the press, they had to use a 12-foot long I-beam. The
only way to get the I-beam to the 17th floor was to drop the elevator
to the basement and then tie the I-beam to the elevator cable.
Guess who rode on top of the elevator to steady the I-beam? Well
it wasn't one of the delivery boys. It was Clifton Bostwick!
There were also several crates of press parts, but one crate in
particular created a real problem. The crate was larger than the
elevator but smaller than the elevator shaft. So, the delivery
men ran wooden timbers across the elevator shaft. Then, after
moving the elevator up ten feet, they rolled the crate onto the
timbers; and, after dropping the elevator down, used large ropes
to secure the crate to the bottom of the elevator. Then they took
the crate up to the 17th floor.
The accomplishments of Charles and Alfred Harris and the inequity
of Clifton Bostwick are excellent examples of Nilesites and their
spirit "Where there's a will, there's a way!"
Every year the Harris family would
hold a family reunion at Waddell Park. This may have been the
last one, due to the age of the generations. In this picture
are the remaining children of James Harris (One of the brothers
that settled in Niles from England) George and Frederick are
the others). They are Olive Allison Harris(First cousin
to William McKinley), her husband George Harris, Sarah
Harris Pew, Henry Harris, Hannah Harris Taylor,
her husband George Taylor and Alfred Harris
(President and founder of the Harris Printing Press). PO11.14
Residence of W.S.Harris
on West Park Avenue.
Niles soldiers going to the service.
1918…This photo was taken at the old Erie Train Station,
My Grandfather (William Harris) and his brother, Frederick Kent
Harris were on the train. The train was taking new draftees
for processing in 1918. Their father (Frederick Harris) is seen
left-of-center, next to the woman with the white collar—Richard
Harris Residence on Cedar near Bean Alley.
The man wearing the long coat,
and holding the fishing pole, is my Great-Grandfather; Frederick
Harris. Fred's first cousin was Sarah A. Harris,
who married Benjamin Frank Pew. Sarah was a sister
of Alfred Harris, of Harris Printing Press fame. Fred dabbled
in race horses, and stabled them at Frank Pew's place. The photo
seems to be from the 1890s, so it may have been taken around
Cedar Street and Bean Alley, where Fred and Maria lived at that
time. One of the men is probably Frank Pew, but I am not sure
which one. Judging by their mischievous grins, they were having
a good time. Perhaps the horse won—Richard Harris
1898 CedarStreet Grocery Store.
Frederick and Maria Harris owned quite a bit of property around
the Robbins Avenue/Cedar Street area. This structure was built
at the corner of Cedar Street and Bean Alley as a grocery store
for Maria's brother, William Kent, Jr.
In this photo are William
Kent, his sister Maria Harris, unknown man, Harry
Harris(Maria's brother-in-law) and William Harris.
William Kent died in the Philippines as a soldier in the Spanish-American
War, one of only a few from Niles to do so. PO11.12
Apartment building at the corner
of Cedar and Robbins Avenue, known as the Harris Apartments.
Built by Frederick and Maria Harris early
in 20th century. PO11.11