Front View of Thomas House

Ward-Thomas Museum

Ohio Association of Historical Societies and Museums

Five images of buildings and grounds

Twelve Important Industries

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

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Photo of the Harris Automatic Press Co. located in Niles for many years. Constructed about 1904 and operated until 1914, after a prolonged strike moved operations to Cleveland.
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Photo of the Harris Automatic Press Co. located in Niles for many years. Constructed about 1904 and operated until 1914, after a prolonged strike moved operations to Cleveland. The building was used as a soup kitchen during the Great Depression and dismantled shortly thereafter.

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.
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Twelve Important Industries Located in Niles During the Decade From 1902 - 1912. (From Centennial Club History)

Scarcely a Year Passed in This Period With-out A New Plant.
After 1900, scarcely a year passed without addition of one or more industries.

Harris Automatic Press Company
Initial success was obtained when the Harris Automatic Press Company, offered a bonus of $1500 and a free site, removes to Niles, occupying the space just north of the Erie railroad tracks on the west side of North Main Street. Later, in 1914, the company removed and the Hubbard Pressed Steel Company occupied that site.

 

 

 

 

 

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 reconstruction of McKinley's home, and the Old Main Ale & Chowder House.


The Niles Firebrick Co. was constructed by John R. Thomas in 1872 and was one of Niles' most enduring industries.
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The Niles Firebrick Co. was constructed by John R. Thomas in 1872 and was one of Niles' most enduring industries. It was known nationwide for its high quality firebrick. The new type of blast furnaces introduced after WWII made firebrick obsolete and the plant closed and was dismantled in 1974-75.

Fire Brick Reorganized
Also in 1914, the Niles Fire Brick reorganized with a capital of $60,000. The No. 1 Plant, built in 1872 by John R. Thomas, had been moved from its original site near the Mahoning River in 1882. It now stands south of the Erie railroad opposite the passenger station.

In 1905 the No. 2 brick plant was erected on the original site of the No. 1 plant; in 1910 this plant was enlarged for the manufacture of Silica brick. The No.2 plant works is a modern plant. P.J. Sheehan, present general manager, has been associated with this firm since 1881.
Larger overview from NE corner of city.

Larger overview from NE corner of city with Niles Firebrick kilns lower left. PO1.854


Erie Street view of the Niles Car and Manufacturing Company, makers of one of the finest lines of plush electric cars of the area.
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Erie Street view of the Niles Car and Manufacturing Company, makers of one of the finest lines of plush electric cars of the area. This building was located on the block bounded by Erie, South Cedar, Allison Avenue and Mason Street and operated for 16 years before being converted to truck chassis.

Inside the Niles Car and Manufacturing Co. about 1915 when the streetcars were being phased out and truck chassis were being built.
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Inside the Niles Car and Manufacturing Co. about 1915 when the streetcars were being phased out and truck chassis were being built.

Note the Nashville, Chatanooga & St. Louis interurban car in the background.

Niles Car and Manufacturing Company.
The rapid expansion of the electric street railways about that time led local men, headed by Frank Robbins, to organize in 1901 the Niles Car and Manufacturing Company. A large plant was erected covering a block between Erie and South Cedar streets. For a dozen years, when street railways were the only convenient means of interurban travel, this firm prospered.

Subsequently “Niles” trucks were manufactured there; during the war the Engel Aircraft Corporation manufactured airplane bodies for the government and in 1919 the American Tire Corporation incorporated and used the plant for a few years. It is now occupied by the Stevens Metal Products Company.

Inside the Niles Car & Manufacturing Co. about the time that conversion to truck bodies began.
Inside the Niles Car & Manufacturing Co. about the time that conversion to truck bodies began.
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A steel, center-door car built in 1915 by the Niles Car and Mfg. Company for the Cleveland and Erie Railway. #207 was one of the first lightweight interurbans built by the Niles Car Works and was one of the last group of cars this company built. PO1. 1579

A steel, center-door car built in 1915 by the Niles Car and Mfg. Company for the Cleveland and Erie Railway. #207 was one of the first lightweight interurbans built by the Niles Car Works and was one of the last group of cars this company built.

 

 

 



American Sheet & Tin Plate Co., made first tinplate in the US. Constructed in 1891 by Falcon Iron & Nail Co., originally the James Ward Co. but acquired by the Arms Bros. & John Stambaugh after the 1873 Ward failures.
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Niles Sheet Iron Company.
In 1902, the Board of Trade was influential in bringing two very important concerns to Niles. The offer of $10,000 and a free site induced W. A. Thomas, James Patterson and associates to construct a sheet mill on the north bank of the Mahoning River just west of the viaduct leading to McDonald. The newspapers of the time refer to it as the Niles Sheet Iron Company and describe how a small steamboat was used to carry workmen between the South Main Street bridge and the mill.

American Sheet & Tin Plate Co., made first tinplate in the US. Constructed in 1891 by Falcon Iron & Nail Co., originally the James Ward Company but acquired by the Arms Brothers and John Stambaugh after the 1873 Ward failures.


Empire Iron and Steel Company

Two different views of the Empire Iron & Steel Company. PO1.516

Empire Iron and Steel Company
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Empire Iron and Steel Company
About the same year, 1902, by the offer of a bonus of $13,333, the Board of Trade persuaded Wade A. Taylor, C. S. Thomas and John O’Dea to build in Niles a rolling mill called the Empire Iron and Steel Company. This plant was erected on the south bank of the Lisbon branch of the Erie Railroad.

The plant was sold to Jonathan Warner & Assoc. in 1905. In approximately 1912, it was sold to Brier Hill Steel Company which merged with Youngstown Sheet & Tube Company.

 

 

 

Picture of the old squaring shears at the Empire Mill. Dated 1909.Picture of the old squaring shears at the Empire Mill. Dated 1909.
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Smoky industrial skyline of Niles at the peak of iron manufacturing, descibed by historian Howe in 1888 as "among the most extensive in the state."
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Smoky industrial skyline of Niles at the peak of iron manufacturing, descibed by historian Howe in 1888 as "among the most extensive in the state."

All structures were part of Ward Enterprises, however by 1900 they had all been demolished. This photo is captioned Falcon Iron & Nail Co.'s Mills. Galvanizing works and Coleman Shields Co. Mills, Niles, Ohio.

Ohio Galvanizing and Manufacturing company.
The improvement that came with these industries caused officials of one company to complain of the housing shortage faced by their employees. Other industrial accessions followed.

In 1902, F. F. Bentley, A.J. Bentley and A.J. Leitch erected the Ohio Galvanizing and Manufacturing Company plant at the foot of Ann Street.In 1902, F. F. Bentley, A.J. Bentley and A.J. Leitch erected the Ohio Galvanizing and Manufacturing Company plant at the foot of Ann Street.

This plant is still in active operation with C.B. Robinson now president and W.R. Robinson, vice president and treasurer.
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Russia Sheet Mill copied from a picture in a souvenir pamphlet by Sykes Steel Roofing Co. of Chicago & Niles in 1893.
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The R.G. Sykes Co. used this picture of the house in their 1898 catalog as an example of their work. It was torn down and a commerical building was erected in its place.
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R.G. Sykes Metal Lath Company.
In 1903 the Sykes Metal Lath Company was located on Walnut Street. After operating for more than twenty years, the factory became the property of the Kalman Company and has been idle during the depression.

Russia Sheet Mill copied from a picture in a souvenir pamphlet by Sykes Steel Roofing Co. of Chicago & Niles in 1893.

In 1867, James Ward II sent a represenative to Russia to report on the possibility of manufacturing " Russia Iron", a high grade product much in demand for stove manufacturing. Upon a favorable report, the "Russia Sheet Mill" was built on the north bank of the Mahoning River, east of the Lisbon branch of Erie RR.

Mr. C. Easthorpe, who owned this house on Vienna Avenue was Superintendant of the Ward Plant of the Falcon Iron & Nail Co.

The R.G. Sykes Co. used this picture of the house in their 1898 catalog as an example of their work. It was torn down and a commerical building was erected in its place.


Standard Boiler & Plate Iron Co. started in 1906 by D. J. Finney, E. A. Gilbert and others.
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An advertisement from the Niles Daily News dated Oct. 5, 1917 for the Standard Boiler & Plate Iron Co. located in Niles, Ohio
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An advertisement from the Niles Daily News dated Oct. 5, 1917 for the Standard Boiler & Plate Iron Co. located in Niles, Ohio

The Standard Boiler and Plate Iron Company
The Standard Boiler and Plate Iron Company was incorporated in 1906 by E. A. Gilbert, D. J. Finney and associates. In 1929, the controlling interest was purchased by John Warne and E. J. Railly. The plant stands west of the city near the Erie Railroad tracks.

 

 

 

 

 

A view from Emma Streeet looking north from Warren Avenue when the WPA project was improving the streets in Niles.
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A view from Emma Streeet looking north from Warren Avenue when the WPA project was improving the streets in Niles.

The building in the rear was Standard Boiler Plate & Iron, which later became the Amweld Building, Product Division.


Columbia Manufacturing Co. -Bicycle tubing- located where the Niles Forge stood until 1975
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Niles Forge and Manufacturing Company.
In 1909 the Niles Forge and Manufacturing Company was incorporated with H. J. Robbins as president. George C. Campbell as vice president. J.N. Baldwin as secretary and treasurer.

The Niles Forge plant was erected near the river at the foot of Grant Street. In 1914 it was reorganized with C. T. Sweeny, A. F. Sweeny and O. O. Hewitt as officers. The structural steel used in the Niles Bank Company building was fabricated here.

Columbia Manufacturing Co. -Bicycle tubing- located where the Niles Forge stood until 1975.

Picture taken of the crew between 1898 and 1900 by James Coupland Sr.

L to R back to front: James Coupland Jr., Bill Bruders, Ed Flannigan, Ed Lyons, Peck Fellows, Omar Rupert, Paddy Quinn, ? Worthington, Jim Grace, Charley Heastings, Teddy Phillips, Jimmy O'Malia, Dick Phillips, ? Sheen, Joe Sweezy, Arthur Chilton, ?,?, Tom Fellows, Frank Lafford.


The Stanley Company was constructed in 1910 by the company out of New Britain, Conn. It manufactured nuts, bolts, washers and small fittings. Operations were limited after WWII and the plant was sold in the 1950's. In 1976, it was rented to Aluminum Billets, Inc.
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Stanley Works
In 1910 the Stanley Works of New Britain, Connecticut, constructed a branch plant in Niles at the south end of Carle Avenue. Mr. R.M. Smith has been manager since establishment of the plant.

It manufactured nuts, bolts, washers and small fittings. Operations were limited after WWII and the plant was sold in the 1950's. In 1976, it was rented to Aluminum Billets, Inc.


Constructed in 1910 by Fostoria Gass Co., many of the first employees moved here from Fostoria, Ohio.
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Constructed in 1910 by Fostoria Gass Co., many of the first employees moved here from Fostoria, Ohio. Hand blown glass bulbs were the initial products. Large circular kilns contained molten glass in pots which was extracted through 16 curtain doors on the end of five foot tubes by gatherers who handed the tube to the blower. General Electric acquired the plant about 1911 and mechanized the process.

Photo of one of the glass furnaces and crew at the Fostoria Glass Works, later GE.

Photo of one of the glass furnaces and crew at the Fostoria Glass Works, later GE. PO1.532

Niles Glass Fostoria Works.
An important addition to local industries was the construction in 1910 of the plant now occupied by the Niles Glass Works of the General Electric Company. This plant recently has been giving work to an average of 245 employees in the manufacture of electric light bulbs. Mr. Z. C. Kline has been the superintendent since 1924.

Another view of the Fostoria Glass Works built in 1909 and taken over by GE in 1911. Located at the corner of Main Street and Federal Street.
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Another view of the Fostoria Glass Works built in 1909 and taken over by GE in 1911. Located at the corner of Main Street and Federal Street.

The General Electric Plant and grounds.
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The General Electric Plant and grounds. It was built about 1909-1910 and merged with National Lamp & GE in 1911. Before mechanization in the early twenties, 205 blowers blew about 225,000 bulbs per day. A blower and gatherer could blow 1100 bulbs in an 8 hour day. After mechanization, 2 men and a machine could make 3,000 to 5,000 bulbs per hour.



Niles Iron and Steel Roofing Company
In 1911 the Niles Iron and Steel Roofing Company at 110 Erie Street, originally formed by George Robbins in 1890, was reorganized under the Deforest Sheet and Tin Plate Company.

In 1926 it was purchased by a new firm headed by E.H. Hughes, R. G. Hughes and T. E. Pritchard, the present owner. In normal times the firm employed twelve men in the manufacturing of roofing equipment and furnace supplies. The firm removed from Erie Street to the present Warren Avenue site in 1928.


Bradshaw Pottery in 1901. It was built on the P.Y. & A right of way and Hunter Street.

Bradshaw Pottery in 1901. It was built on the P.Y. & A right of way and Hunter Street. PO1.510

A photo of the Bradshaw Pottery in Niles. in Roundstown. Construction began in April 1901.

A photo of the Bradshaw Pottery in Niles. in Roundstown. Construction began in April 1901. In digging the foudation for the new pottery a big bed of clay of the kind used in making red building brick was discovered.
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The Tritt China Company
The Tritt China Company incorporated in 1912 and constructed a pottery plant at Hunter Street and Warren Avenue. The pottery was used by the Atlas China Company organized in 1922. In 1925 fire destroyed a large part of the plant but it was rebuilt and operated for a time after 1926 by the Atlas Globe China Company. Since the depression began the plant has been idle.

 

 

 

 

Picture of Mr. Tritt with several employees of the Tritt China Factory, which occupied the orginal location of Bradshaw Pottery.Picture of Mr. Tritt with several employees of the Tritt China Factory, which occupied the orginal location of Bradshaw Pottery.

The photo is dated October 1918. Alma Heeter, Edith Stevens, W.E. Tritt, Adella Crumbaker. PO1.632


Thus in the ten years from 1902 to 1912, at least twelve important industries had located in Niles. Yet, as a whole it was a period of rather slow and cautious growth, checked at the outset by the loss of the former iron industries and later by the brief “money panic” of 1907.

During the decade 1900-1910, the population increased but 12 percent, from 7468 to 8361, as compared with a 74 percent increase in the preceding decade.


     

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