Thursday, June 16, 2011

Lost Stories:Yesterday and Today - Hart Nut and Washer Company

Mentor's Old Village District offers a unique look back into days past.  The oldest house stands at 7597 Center Street.  The first public library building is located at Center Street and Nowlen.  An elegant home that began as a barn still exists on Perkins Drive.  On Station Street stands a well remembered site built in the year 1868.  Constructed at a cost of $11,500, the building still exists today and is home to a tavern and several other businesses.  Originally built for the Hart Nut and Washer Company, it was Mentor's first ever industrial site.  Built of bricks from a kiln on Garfield Road, washers and nuts were never made there.  A barrel factory, a cider mill, and several other enterprises did call it home.  Following the ill fated washer and nut company was a flour mill.  In 1896, the building was purchased by the Mentor Knitting Mills.  Makers of Mentor Comfort Underwear, the company sold their product to every state in the Union.  'Local Lore' even reported an unusual suicide at the factory.  A. M. Herrion, the president of the company, entered his factory one evening and committed suicide.  An involuntary motion by Herrion launched the gun into a vat of dye.  The lack of a weapon created a bizarre sheriff investigation that took quite a while to resolve.
The third major business to reside in the building was the Lake Shore Chemical Company from 1916-1917.  They made a poison chemical used during WWI.  The Salvet Company was fourth to call the Station Street site home.  Arriving in 1923, their product was a series of animal tonics.  Fifth in the timeline of businesses was the Ames Bag Company.  Makers of cloth bags for salt, the Ames Company was replaced by the Columbia Match Company in 1938.  The owner James Weaver and sons enjoyed a long and successful run at the site.  Makers of match products, they purchased the building in 1955. The Columbia Match Company is now a part of days past, but the building remains largely unchanged and still in use today.  Easily seen from the Center Street overpass or just a short jaunt off of Jackson Street, one can drive past Mentor's first factory site or venture inside for business needs or a tavern outing.

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