Columbus Neighborhoods: Mount Vernon History
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Columbus Neighborhoods: Mount Vernon History

August 31, 2019


>>MOUNT VERNON WAS FOUNDED IN 1805. AND THEY NEEDED A COUNTY SEAT IN 1808. AND SO, SOME INSPECTORS WERE SENT UP FROM THE STATE GOVERNMENT TO CHOOSE A SIGHT. AND IT WAS BETWEEN MOUNT VERNON AND A TOWN CALLED CLINTON, WHICH WAS JUST NORTH OF HERE. THE STORY GOES THAT THE INSPECTORS CAME TO MOUNT VERNON TO CHECK IT OUT AND IT WAS A GREAT LITTLE TOWN. AND THERE WERE PEOPLE THAT WERE TENDING TO GARDENS AND PULLING UP STUMPS AND IMPROVING THE CITY TO MAKE IT A NICE PLACE. AND, OF COURSE, THEY MARKED ALL THAT DOWN AND THOUGHT, “WHAT A GREAT LITTLE TOWN.” AND THEN THEY VENTURED ON TO CLINTON TO LOOK THERE, AND THE STORY GOES THAT THOSE SAME PEOPLE RODE NORTH AHEAD OF THE INSPECTORS AND GOT IN A FIGHT ON PURPOSE TO MAKE CLINTON LOOK LIKE THIS ROWDY FRONTIER TOWN THAT WAS UNCIVILIZED. AND SO, MOUNT VERNON, NATURALLY, WAS AWARDED THE TOWN SEAT. THERE’S A CLINTON ROAD, AND THAT’S ALL THAT’S LEFT OF CLINTON. MOUNT VERNON GREW VERY RAPIDLY IN THE EARLY YEARS.>>SETTLERS CAME WHERE THEY COULD PRODUCE FARMS. ONCE THEY PRODUCED AGRICULTURE THEY NEED TO GET THAT TO MARKETS. ONCE THAT HAPPENED WE HAD TRANSPORTATION CENTERS BUILDING UP. AND THAT ATTRACTED MORE POPULATION AND NEEDED CONSUMER GOODS.>>MY GREAT-GRANDFATHER AND HIS BROTHER, WE SAY WE STARTED OUT SELLING FLOUR AND SUGAR OUT OF BARRELS AND WHISKEY AND DYNAMITE. AND THEY OPENED THE WOOLSON TEA AND SPICE COMPANY IN TOLEDO. THEY ALSO OPENED SEVERAL RETAILS STORES. THIS STORE WAS OPENED IN 1897 AND IT’S REMAINED HERE IN THIS BLOCK THAT WHOLE TIME. WELL BACK AT THE TURN OF CENTURY, THE SPICES WERE LIKE MONEY. THEY WERE REALLY RARE AND HARD TO FIND. THE WOOLSON SPICE COMPANY AT ONE TIME WAS THE LARGEST WHOLESALERS OF TEA AND SPICES IN THE UNITED STATES.>>BY THE LATE 1800s, IT REALLY GREW INTO AN INDUSTRIAL CITY. THE INDUSTRY WAS, EARLY ON, MILLS NEAR THE RIVER. THERE WERE SOMETHING, LIKE, 13 OIL AND GAS COMPANIES. THERE’S ACTUALLY A LOT OF SILICA SAND, WHICH IS GREAT FOR MAKING GLASS. SO WE HAD SIX GLASS COMPANIES HERE IN THE CITY.>>THE GLASS INDUSTRY HERE DATES TO THE EARLY 20th CENTURY. JACOB COXIE RETRIEVED THE CARLOADS OF STEEL FROM THE 1893 WORLDS FAIR IN CHICAGO WITH THE INTENTION OF BUILDING A STEEL CASTING COMPANY IN MOUNT VERNON. WORKED AT THAT THROUGHOUT 1905 WHEN HE HIT UPON HARD TIMES AND POOR QUALITY AND ULTIMATELY SOLD HIS CONCERN TO AN UPSTART GLASS ORGANIZATION THAT HAD SOME TIES TO PITTSBURGH PLATE GLASS. BY 1908, THE COMPANY HAD TOTALLY BECOME OWNED BY THE PITTSBURGH PLATE GLASS COMPANY. ONE OF THE INNOVATIONS OF THE GLASS INDUSTRY IN MOUNT VERNON WAS THE PEN VERNON GLASS PROCESS. GLASS WAS DRAWN AS A RIBBON OF GLASS OUT OF A VAT OF MOLTEN STEEL, COOLING AS IT ROSE AND VERY SKILLED CUTTERS, MOST OF THEM OF BELGIUM ORIGIN, WOULD CUT THIS GLASS AT THE TOP OF THESE TOWERS. THESE FACTORIES RAN, OBVIOUSLY, 24/7. IT WAS THE LARGEST SHEET GLASS FACTORY IN THE WORLD. MORE THAN A MILLION SQUARE FEET OF FACTORY SPACE SHIPPING SHEET GLASS ALL OVER THE WORLD. MUSIC>>MOUNT VERNON BRIDGE COMPANY WAS FOUNDED IN THE LATE 1800s. IT LASTED UNTIL ABOUT 1960 WHERE THEY BUILT BRIDGES THAT THEY SHIPPED ALL AROUND THE COUNTRY. THERE’S BRIDGES THAT SPAN THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER. STEEL FROM THE MOUNT VERNON BRIDGE COMPANY WAS USED IN CONSTRUCTION OF OHIO STADIUM, IN SAINT JOHN ARENA, IN THE NEIL HOUSE HOTEL ALL IN COLUMBUS. CERTAINLY THE PRESENCE OF TWO MAJOR RAILROAD LINES IN OUR COMMUNITY WERE IMPORTANT NOT ONLY TO THE GLASS INDUSTRY, BUT CERTAINLY TO AGRICULTURE, WHICH IS A MAJOR INDUSTRY THEN AND NOW IN OUR COMMUNITY. AND I THINK THEY TELL A GREAT STORY OF THE IMPORTANCE OF TRANSPORTATION IN A REMOTE, RURAL COMMUNITY, THAT WE WERE ABLE TO HAVE NOT ONLY A GLASS INDUSTRY, BUT HEAVY INDUSTRY AND AGRICULTURE SIDE BY SIDE. AND AT THE TIME THAT THOSE DEVELOPED IN THE EARLY 19th CENTURY, WE HAVE TO REMEMBER THAT OHIO AND MOUNT VERNON WAS REALLY A GATEWAY TO THE DEVELOPING, YOU KNOW, WESTERN REGIONS OF OUR COUNTRY.>>COOPER STARTS WITH TWO BROTHERS IN 1833. THEY HAD THREE HORSES AND THEY SOLD TWO OF THEM IN ORDER TO OPEN THEIR FIRST MILL. SO, IT WAS A ONE-HORSE OPERATION. OVER TIME, THEY EXPAND AND GET INTO ENGINES AND BECOME ONE OF THE PREMIERE ENGINE MAKERS IN THE COUNTRY. THEY PIONEER THE TRACTION GEAR IN 1875, WHICH BASICALLY INVENTED THE TRACTOR.>>THEY BUILT ENGINES BIGGER AND BIGGER. I’VE HAD PEOPLE TELL ME “SOME OF THOSE, A MAN CAN STAND INSIDE THE PISTONS.” THEY WERE THAT LARGE. OF COURSE, THERE WERE LOTS OF USES FOR BIG ENGINES. THE GREATEST ONE, OF COURSE, BEING LOCOMOTIVES, STEAM POWER. PEOPLE REALIZE THAT STEAM POWER COULD THEN BE USED FOR EQUIPMENT ON FARMS. AND MOST IMPORTANT OF WHICH WAS THE THRESHING MACHINE. THE BIG THING THAT CAME FOR COOPER-BESSEMER WAS COMPRESSOR ENGINES FOR CROSS-COUNTRY PIPELINES.>>THEY MOVED THEIR HEADQUARTERS TO HOUSTON, TEXAS, UNFORTUNATELY, AND WERE SOLD TO ROLLS-ROYCE AND THEN SOLD TO SEAMANS AND, UNFORTUNATELY, AFTER 215 YEARS IN BUSINESS IN MOUNT VERNON, THEY’RE CLOSING DOWN. MOUNT VERNON HAS AN OPPORTUNITY TO TAKE THIS OLD INDUSTRIAL SITE THAT’S — I THINK IT’S ABOUT 50 ACRES OR SO. AND WE’RE PROBABLY NOT GOING TO GET THE LARGE COMPANY THAT MOVES IN AND MOVES A 1,000 WORKERS HERE, BUT WE COULD GET 20 SMALLER COMPANIES. IT’S ON A RAIL LINE, IT’S GOT AL THE INFRASTRUCTURE READY, IT’S CLOSE TO DOWNTOWN. THIS IS A BIG OPPORTUNITY FOR THEIR CITY TO KEEP ADAPTING LIKE IT’S DONE OVER TIME TO AVOID SOME OF THOSE RUST BELT TYPE TROUBLES THAT CITIES UNDERGO.>>THE COST OF OLD BUILDINGS IN DOWNTOWN MOUNT VERNON IS RELATIVELY SMALL COMPARED TO THE COST OF RENOVATING. IT’S DIFFICULT TO FIND A CITY THIS SIZE A GOOD COMMERCIAL USE FOR THE BUILDINGS AND TO RENOVATE THE BUILDINGS TO GET A RETURN INVESTMENT. BUT FOR THE COLLEGES, AND FOR THE MOST PART, IT WAS CHEAPER TO RENOVATE BUILDINGS AND UTILIZE THOSE BUILDINGS FOR THEIR PURPOSES, THAN PERHAPS TO BUILD NEW BUILDINGS ON THEIR CAMPUSES. AND ALSO, I THINK THAT EACH OF THE COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES WANTED TO BE A PART OF DOWNTOWN MOUNT VERNON.>>WE ARE NOW SEEING RESTAURANTS AND TAPROOMS AND RETAIL AND SORTS OF DEVELOPING.>>JUST WHAT EVERYBODY’S LOOKING FOR. NOW THEY’RE COMING BACK TO THEIR NEIGHBORHOODS. THEY’RE BUILDING CITIES SO THAT EVERYBODY HAS A CORNER STORE AND THEIR CORNER PUB AND ALL THAT SORT OF THING. WELL, THAT’S WHAT WE ARE. WE DON’T HAVE TO BUILD IT, WE JUST HAVE TO RESTORE IT AND GET IT UP AND RUNNING. MUSIC>>THIS COMMUNITY’S RICH IN MANY DIFFERENT WAYS. YOU THINK OF GREEN SPACE DEVELOPMENTS, DEVELOPMENT WITH ARIEL FOUNDATION PARK, THE OLD GRAVEL PITS WERE SEEN ALONG WITH THE PITTSBURGH PIPE GLASS COMPANY. OLD FACTORY SITE. WE’RE SEEING THIS AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO REALLY THINK ABOUT INTENTIONAL REPURPOSING OFF THE SIDE OF DOWNTOWN.>>THANKS TO THE GENEROSITY OF KAREN BUCHWALD WRIGHT AND THE ARIEL CORPORATION, WE WERE ABLE TO ACQUIRE THIS PROPERTY AND THAT WAS REALLY THE BEGINNING OF UNLEASHING A GREAT CREATIVE ENERGY. WE DECIDED THIS WAS GOING TO BE THE AREA WHERE WERE GOING TO CELEBRATE OUR INDUSTRIAL HERITAGE. SO AS YOU WALK THROUGH THIS PARK, YOU’RE GOING TO SEE GIRDERS FROM THE ORIGINAL EPOXY-STEEL PLANT.>>HIKING TRAILS, THERE’S EVENT SPACE, WE HAVE COMMUNITY CONCERTS THERE. THERE’S A RIVER OF GLASS MADE FROM THE CASTOFFS OF GLASS CALLED CULLET.>>THIS 250 ACRE PARK IS AN ABSOLUTELY AMAZING EXAMPLE OF WHAT A LOCAL COMMUNITY CAN DO WHEN IT PULLS TOGETHER TO CREATE A VISION FOR ECONOMIC VITALITY.>>THIS IS A VERY EXCITING TIME IN DOWNTOWN MOUNT VERNON. MUSIC

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