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Friday, January 27, 2017

History of ATTRANSCO

I recently read the NTSB transcript of the voice recorder from the sinking of the El Faro in Hurricane Joaquin in the fall of 2015. It runs over 500 pages, and for anyone who has gone to sea and understands the language, technology, and dynamics of the bridge of an oceangoing vessel, it is an absorbing and emotional thing to read. The duty done, to connect with the last hours of the 33 men and women who lost their lives, I was reminded that the history of my old employer, American Trading & Production, or later ATTRANSCO, should be posted somewhere once again because old postings I made years ago no longer exist. These blogger blogs seem to last forever, so this seems like a good place.
My experiences with American Trading began in 1968, just out of Kings Point, the U S Merchant Marine Academy, when I joined the American Trader headed for the Far East as a third engineer under chief engineer Joe Tierno, and sailed with many old timers who went way back in the history of the company. I left the business in 1992.



History of American Trading and Production
Drafted by Frank J. Murphy

            In 1938 American Trading and Production Corporation (ATAPCORP), American Building, Baltimore, Maryland, purchased the S. S. Pennsylvania Sun, a U. S. flag tanker, built by Sun Shipbuilding in 1923, from Sun Oil Company, Chester, Pennsylvania. Vessel was renamed the S. S. American Trader and was operated by Atapcorp through its newly formed Marine Division with offices in the Graybar Building, 420 Lexington Avenue, New York City under the supervision of a Marine Manager, W. L. Mellon, an Annapolis graduate and a former master with Sun Oil Company.

            W. L. Mellon reported directly to M. J. Gately, Senior Vice President in Atapcorp’s Baltimore office, who, in turn, reported to Atapcorp’s founder and president, Jacob Blaustein. The Treasurer was J. Rothfield who supervised the Marine Division accounts.  House Counsel was Karl F. Steinmann whose office was in Baltimore’s Tower Building. F. J. Murphy joined the Marine Division in a secretarial capacity on October 4, 1939, and it was basically a two-person marine operation from then until the beginning of World War II.

            The Marine Division was charged with the operation of the American Trader which was purchased to serve the coastwise transportation requirements of Crown Central Petroleum Corporation (Crowncen) with headquarters in Baltimore and a branch in New York City, also located in the Graybar Building, under the supervision of Jesse Stickel who reported to Henry Rosenberg, Sr., President, Crowncen, Baltimore.  Crowncen is a public-held oil company in which Atapcorp holds substantial shares.  Crowncen has a refinery in Pasadena, Texas, and in those days shipped a variety of petroleum products, including multiple grades of lube oils, to their East Coast terminals situated at Norfolk, Baltimore and New York (Elizabeth, N. J.)

            Messrs. Rosenberg and Stickel had selected the Pennsylvania Sun since it was ideal in size and suitably ccmpartmented to carry Crowncen’s products. The American Trader had a cargo-carrying capacity of about 101,000 barrels - 81,000 barrels in the main cargo tanks and 20,000 barrels in summer tanks, the size and location of which were just about perfect for the carriage of lube oils. The American Trader was 480.5’ in length, had a molded breadth of 65’O” and a molded depth of 37’ and a deadweight of 13,910. She was an all-riveted ship and powered by 4200 HP  steam reciprocating engines with four Scotch boilers. Although I think her service speed was 12.5/13 knots, Captain McMullin, who served aboard her both with Sun Oil and Atapcorp, says she was known as the greyhound of the Atlantic Coast.
The American Trader was chartered to Crowncen under a consecutive voyage charter party which was initially renegotiated and renewed from year to year. The American Trader was later succeeded by the Crown Trader, Virginia Trader and other Atapcorp owned tankers. Subsequently, a 5 year consecutive voyage charter was negotiated and signed. The original year-to-year charters were negotiated by Messrs. Mellon and Stickel and as I recall there was some very tough bargaining on both sides. Crowncen was a very demanding charterer and the relationship between the two companies placed an unusual burden on Atapcrop to satisfy the charterer’s requirements at reasonable rates. Unlike today’s charter parties which express the freight rate in terms of dollars per ton, tanker charters prior to World War II stated the rate in cents per barrel.  At times, the list of products appended to a charter could be quite long, with each separate product taking a different barrel rate depending upon its gravity.  In addition to transporting liquid bulk cargoes, the American Trader and eventually other Atapcorp tankers under charter to Crowncen, carried package cargo between the Pasadena terminal and Crowncen’s East Coast terminals, such as drums and cases of canned lube oils for the retail market.

The crew for the first American Trader, licensed and unlicensed, was personally recruited by Mellon and Murphy from various sources such as the Seamen’s Church Institute, employment agencies, boarding houses, local bars around Elizabeth, N.J. (particularly one called “Anchor Inn”) , and even an orphanage in New Jersey which released teenage boys and young men to Atapcorp’s legal guardianship, for the purpose of obtaining for them Coast Guard documents to permit them to sail in the entry ratings of Ordinary Seaman, Messman and Wiper. A number of these orphans eventually worked their way up to the ranks of licensed officers. Since the American Trader and subsequent Atapcorp vessels under charter to Crowncen frequently called at the Elizabeth (N.J.) terminal, Atapcorp used members of the local police force to act as gangway guards during their off-hours. These mutually convenient arrangements were made with a Captain Coughlin and it was not unusual for the Elizabeth police to assemble wayward crew members in the local pokey until sailing time. Crowncen’s terminal superintendent was a Tom Jeffries who was always most pleasant and cooperative.

The first master of the American Trader was Captain Hammer and the first Chief Engineer, a Mr. Carter. I believe both were on loan from Sun Oil Company as part of the ship purchase agreement and both returned to Sun Oil after the first year As a matter of fact, Chief Carter died about one year later aboard the S. S.  J. N. Pew while the vessel was en-route north under the command of Captain William McMullin who was to join Atapcorp in 1941 and serve with distinction aboard Atapcorp vessels through Wor1d War II including the American Trader until retired in 1955 for reasons of health. Captain McMullin, in a recent letter, relates that he put Chief Carter ashore in Key West where Captain Snyder, another Sun Oil Company officer, escorted him home.

Captain Hammer was succeeded by Captain T. Leerberg and Chief  Carter, by Rebel T. Layton. Captain Leeberg had a. chief mate by the name of  Ingvold Martinusen who acted as relieving master on two occasions while Leeberg went on vacation . Martinusen left Atapcorp in 1941 to accept command of another U. S. flag ship. On May 31, 1942 he was killed in an explosion aboard the S. S. Caiclilas while she lay at berth in Tampico, Mexico.

Rebel T. Layton, the second Chief Engineer to be aboard the American Trader, subsequently retired to his home in Tyler, Texas. He was eventually succeeded by Charlie Hagelberg, known as “Scrap Iron”. Charlie presently lives in retirement with his wife on the Jersey shore. He recently sent me a photograph of one of the first American Trader crews and his accompanying note, in part, read, “All these men have neat haircuts - no beards - and all have ties on.” Today, Charlie would be labeled a “hardhat”. The photograph accompanies other papers attached as enclosed with this chronicle. [?]
Another illustrious Sun Oil officer who served Atapcorp long and well was Captain James A. Perry who operated in Crowncen‘s coastwise run for many years. Capt. Perry is presently in retirement at his home in Maryland.
 
Although Atapcorp had no labor contracts in the early years for its seagoing personnel, the radio officer, Charles W. Harvey, was a charter member of the Radio Officers Union (R O U ) Harvey served at poker - so much so that at time of crew payoff aboard ship, Charles Harvey had more than his share of crew members lined up at his desk each voyage turning over their hard earned wages for his I.O.U.’s. Harvey is in the crew photograph as are a number of others mentioned above.
As all know, the United States became directly involved in World War II with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1911. Atapcorp’s only vessel, the American Trader, was requisitioned by the U. S. Government in the first half of  1942 under a time charter arrangement which designated Atapcorp as the Time Charter Agent for the vessel. Atapcorp was appointed General Agent by the U. S. Government’s War Shipping Administration (WSA) in 1943 and over the ensuing months took delivery of a fleet of T-2 tankers and one Liberty tanker. The General Agency arrangement lasted until about 1948. As General Agents, Atapcorp operated about 14 (?) ships for W.S.A. including its own American Trader. The attached list, prepared from memory totals only 13, including the American Trader. The “Buena Vista Hills also appears on the list and it is questionable if she were operated under a General Agency Agreement by Atapcorp although eventually purchased outright. Baltimore office files should be able to reflect the correct names.
Sappa Creek
Rogue River
Harpers Ferry
Albert G. Brown (Liberty)
Elk Hills
Apache Canyon
Dominguez Hills
Castle Pinckney
Marne
Quaker Hill
American Trader (T/C/A)
Buena Vista Hills (?)
Stony Creek (?)
The original American Trader under the command of Captain McMullin operated in some of the most dangerous war zones during World War II carrying cargoes for the military through submarine infested waters off the Atlantic and Gulf coasts as well as making trans-Atlantic voyages in convoy to serve the Allied fleets in the Mediterranean off the north coast of Africa and southern Europe, particularly Italy, surviving air raids during which some of her crow sustained shrapnel wounds.
WSA General Agents had to coordinate ship departures with the military and were obligated to have vessels under their jurisdiction arrive at a pre-arranged rendezvous point at a precise time. Convoys were thus formed and sealed sailing orders delivered to the master at that time. In addition to carrying liquid petroleum cargoes, tankers were outfitted on deck to transport war planes. In the Port of New York, the loaded tankers docked at Manhattans Hudson River piers, formerly used by passenger lines and dry cargo ships, to take aboard a number of, say, P-38s. I recall visiting Captain McMullin during the course of these operations when New York City was blacked out (more probably browned out) and discussing problems with the Master behind blacked out port holes and in dimly lit quarters.
Captain NcMullin, as noted, is in retirement in Bacliff, Texas and is approaching 80. Over the past year or so he has sent letters, some of which are enclosed, describing how American Trading’s first ship participated in the war effort. Atapcorp received certificates of merit from the War Shipping Administration in recognition of its outstanding performance as a General Agent. The certificates were framed and hung in Atapcorp s N. Y. office when received, but their whereabouts at. the present time, are not known to the writer. They may be in Atapcorp’s N.Y.C. warehouse.
After cessation of World War II in 1945, Atapcorp continued as General Agent for W.S.A. until about 1948, gradually redelivering the G.A. vessels to the Government which sold most of the W.S.A. vessels to commercial interests.
In 1947, after taking redelivery of the American Trader from W S A., Atapcorp (year?) sold the vessel to Italian Nationals for operation under the Panamanian flag.  I believe the American Trader operated about one more year before coming to the end of her useful life when she went aground off Tampico, Mexico (seems to be a place of doom for ex-Atapcorp connections).
Also in 1947, Atapcorp purchased T-2 tankers from the U.S. Government - the S.S. Marne, renamed the American Trader; the Port Republic, renamed Baltimore Trader; and the Carnifax Ferry, renamed Crown Trader. Interestingly enough, the United States Lines owned a dry cargo-passenger vessel also named American Trader (the U .S. L. fleet also had such names as American Banker, American Lawyer, American Merchant, etc.). The U. S. Lines American Trader was a World War I prize of war whose original name also, by sheer coincidence, was Marne. For a number of years Atapcorp received requests from immigrants seeking American citizenship papers for verification of their arrival in the United States as passengers aboard the American Trader. Such inquiries were, of course, referred to the U. S. Lines.
In 1948 Atapcorp purchased the Buena Vista Hills from the government, renamed it Texas Trader and bareboat chartered her to Amoco for five years. In 1951 a young Third Asst. Engineer, Richard Palk, joined Atapcorp’s fleet directly from Kings Point. After moving up to Chief Engineer, he joined Atapcorp’s shore-side staff as Asst. Port Engineer and after progressing through various other managerial and executive positions, he was elected president of Attransco (Atapcorp’s Marine Division successor) on July 1, 1981.
In 1953 Atapcorp purchased two 13,000 dwt tankers from Esso, the Esso Bayway (renamed the Maryland Trader) and the Esso Bayonne (renamed New York Trader).
In 1955 Atapcorp moved its N Y C offices from the Graybar Building, 420 Lexington Avenue, to the 17th floor of 555 Fifth Avenue, then known as the American Oil Building. At one stage Atapcorp enlarged its offices to include a part of the 16th floor which was connected to the 17th floor spaces via an inner stairway. The 16th floor spaces were later given up and the inner stairway dismantled. The building was officially opened in 1955 and the prime tenant, American Oil, moved their offices from The Chanin Bldg. on 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue. Atapcorp’s move from the Graybar, Building to the American Oil Building was handled by W. L. Mellon and Louis Thalheimer and was made particularly difficult because the Ford Foundation had initially opted for the space and a sum of money ($50,000) was necessary to get the Foundation to release the 17th floor space.
At the end of 1955 Atapcorp was operating U. S. flag tankers American Trader (ex Marne) , Baltimore Trader (ex Port Republic) Crown Trader (ex Carnifax Ferry) , Maryland Trader (ex Esso Bayway) and the New York Trader (ex Esso Bayonne) and owned the Texas Trader (ex Buena Vista Hills) under bareboat charter to Amoco. (This latter must be checked since originally the Texas Trader was chartered for five years to Amoco in 1948.)
In 1956 Atapcorp pioneered the carriage of grain in self-discharging tankers to India under the U. S. Government’s P. L. 480 Program. Up to this time there had been relatively few tankers employed in the bulk grain trades because they were difficult to discharge with shore-based grain discharging equipment due to their cargo tank structure and their restrictive tank top openings. In the early years tank coatings had not been developed and in general use as they are today and, consequently, cleaning was often a major problem, especially dirty cargoes such as Bunker “C”. For these and other reasons under Mr. Mellon’s supervision Atapcorp carried out a survey of equipment used by American farmers in handling grain to and from silos, barges, warehouses, trucks, etc. Captain Strohm was dispatched to visit various farm areas on the east and west coasts as well as in the mid-west. After considering a number of machines such as one manufactured by the Ford Motor Company (Fordomatic?) Atapcorp, one memorable Saturday morning from its 555 offices telephoned one Mr. Wallace in Batavia, Illinois, and asked that he come to our New York offices to demonstrate the capabilities of the Vacuvator, a gain machine manufactured by his company, Dunbar Kapple. As a result of that visit, Atapcorp purchased a number of gasoline generated Vacuvators. I believe the original order was for four and Atapcorp proceeded to negotiate a charter with the India Supply Mission, Washington, D. C., through N. Y. charter brokers, to load, transport and discharge a cargo of wheat from the United States to Bombay, India. Because of the self-discharging feature and the nature of the equipment, new clauses had to be drawn and agreed upon, underwriters had to be consulted, etc. In later years Atapcorp purchased many more Vacuvators and gradually switched from gasoline to diesel and, finally, electrically driven motors, using ships’ power. Other ship-owners followed suit and Dunbar Kapple did an enormous business selling equipment to owners and operators of ocean-going tankers, a business that was handed to them on a platter as a result of Atapcorp’s research and a Saturday telephone call in 1956.
In addition to grain to India, Atapcorp’s vessels have transported cargoes of wheat, milo, sorghum, barley and corn to many other P L 480 recipient nations such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, Brazil, Korea, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Colombia, and Russia
In 1956 Atapcorp conractcd for two vessels to be jumboizcd at Maryland Shipbuilding & Drydock Company, Baltimore, Maryland - the Crown Trader (ex Carnifax Ferry) which was converted to a jumbo in 1958 and renamed Maryland Trader and the Baltimore Trader (ex Port Republic) . The latter jumbo contract was subsequently cancelled in
1957 due to a poor market and a penalty of $100,000 (?) paid the shipyard for such cancellation.
In 1956 the Maryland Trader (ex Esso Bayway) and New York Trader (ex Esso Bayonne) were sold to newl.y formed Calvert Tankers, a Liberian corporate subsidy of Atapcorp for foreign flag operation. Marsano Brothers, Genoa, Italy, were appointed managing agents charged with manning and victualling. Italian crews were employed on both vessels which were renamed Lord Calvert (ex Maryland Trader) and Lord Howard (ex New York Trader) after counties in Maryland.
In December 1956/January 1957 the Monitor (renamed Washington Trader) and the Seven Seas (renamed Virginia Trader) were purchased from the U. S. Government.
In 1957 the Lord Calvert and Lord Howard were laid up at Mobile, Alabama, for lack of business. Enroute to lay-up site at Mobile the Lord Howard sustained serious bottom damage on coral reefs while navigating the Florida straits. Damage was never repaired although underwriters reimbursed Calvcrt for the unrepaired damage. After having been transferred to Liberian registry in 1956 both vessels underwent extensive repairs and rehabilitation at Genoa, Italy, at a total cost of about $1,200,000 (?) . The Lord Howard and Lord Calvcrt, which had a relatively high book value, never traded again and were subsequently sold in 1963 “as is where is” for an insignificant sum after having been maintained in layup status for more than five years.
As referred to above, the Maryland Trader was delivered to Atacorp by Maryland Drydock and Shipyard, Baltimore, Maryland, in 1958 as a jumboized T-2 of 21,253 DWT.
In 1960, the Esso Annapolis, a T-3, was purchased from Esso and renamed the Crown Trader. Price: $450,000 (?)
The Baltimore Trader (ex Port Republic) was sold in 1961 to Sealand for $340,000 to be converted for container service at Alabama Shipyard & Drydock Co., Mobile.
In 1962, the Anerican Trader (ex Marne) was scrapped in Taiwan as well as the Texas Trader (ex Buena Vista hills)
In 1964, the Neches was purchased from Sabine Towing & Transportation Company for approximately $600,000. This vessel was renamed American Trader and was subsequently jumboized to its present 27,600 dwt size at Newport News in 1967.
In 1965 the jumboized Maryland Trader (ex Crown Trader) was coiled and coated at Norfolk Shipyard for a cost of less than $500,000.
In 1965 Mission midbodies were purchased from General Dynamics and Henry Dowd of Marine Carriers, the latter a competing shipowner who managed to gain title to one of two midbodies with the aid of an unscrupulous ship broker. Two Mission tankers had been withdrawn from the Reserve Fleet by the Navy for conversion to missile tracking ships. New, sophisticatedly equipped midbodies were inserted in
the Mission ships and the two old midbodies, which were in excellent condition, became the property of General Dynamics. Atapcorp had General Dynamics insert the Mission midbodies into the Washington Trader (ex Monitor) and Virginia Trader (ex Seven Seas) to replace their worn-out World War II midbodies. Conversion was done at General Dynamics at Quincy, Mass, in late 1965 and finished in January 1966 when the Virginia Trader was delivered. Vessels actually retained their T-2 conformation and size and cost about $500/600,000 each. The work was performed under the most brutal weather conditions with temperatures constantly hovering around 0, and, to my mind, epitomized the character of the personnel that has been Atapcorp’s good fortune to associate itself with over the years. Under Dick Palk’s guidance a team of Atapcorp‘s shipside and shoreside employees supervised the midbody replacements. Although there were others, I particularly visualize Charlie Hagelberg and Bert Puddifoot suffering through unbelievable conditions without complaint. Dollar for dollar, I think of these two mibbody jobs as one of the best investments ever made by Atapcorp. To emphasize the real worth of the Mission midbodies, I recall that Dick Palk offered to personally raise the funds necessary for their purchase should Atapcorp have any qualms about making the investment. I have long recognized Dick ‘s uncanny sense of value.
In 1965 Atapcorp purchased the Alaskan from the Joshua Hendy Corp. Capt. Ted Anderson, who operated Hendy’s fleet was a close friend and one day Bill Torelle of Dietze, Inc., N.Y.C. brokers, phoned and said Ted Anderson wanted to give us an opportunity to purchase his T-2 Alaskan as repayment for past business favors. If we were interested Hendy would not put the ship on the market and the price to Atapcorp would be either $350,000 or $375,000 - our option! Dick Palk inspected the ship along with a professional surveyor named Ganly. Dick recommended the ship be purchased while Ganly submitted an adverse verbal report because of boiler problems that he foresaw. Based on Dick’s recommendation, I recommended the Alaskan to Lem Dunbar for purchase - at $375,000 and Ganly was asked to submit his fee but no written report. The Alaskan was purchased, renamed the Baltimore Trader and went on to produce substantial profits until sold for scrap in 1969 for $297,000. The Ganly example is one of many encountered over the life of the Marine Division - principals are inclined to favor reports from those who represent themselves as experts and hang out a shingle as opposed to in - house talent.
In 1965 the Crown Trader (ex Esso Annapolis) was scrapped in Japan for $260,000. 
In 1966 Atapcorp’s signed the American Trader forebody contract with Newport News. The same year the Washington Trader was coated in Japan for about $350,000.
1967 saw the delivery of the jumboized American Trader (ex Neches) from Newport News and vessel immediately entered into a long term charter with NSC. The forebody job cost about $4.7 M.
In 1968 the Virginia Trader (ex Seven Seas) was coiled end coated at Maryland Drydock & Shipbuilding Company, Baltimore, Maryland, for approximately $600,900.
The Texaco South Carolina was purchased from Texaco in 1969 for $300,000. She operated as an asphalt carrier for Texaco, but Atapcorp‘s inspection indicated she had a good stern and engine and a better candidate for jumboizing than any vessel we owned. She was jumboized to the present 27,600 dwt Texas Trader and delivered by Newport News in 1969 when. she immediately entered upon a long term MSC charter. She cost about $5M.
Atapcorp then sold the Baltimore Trader (ex Alaskan) in 1969 for ‘scrap in Taiwan for $297,000, as noted earlier.
In December of that same year (1969) Atapcorp purchased the P. W. Thirtle from Capt Lynch of Arco for the sun of $1,500,000. This was a former Sinclair Oil Co. ship of over 26,000 dwt which was originally contemplated jumboizing to a 30,000 dwt tanker at Newport News. Subsequently we signed a 10 year consecutive voyage charter (later converted to a time charter and extended to 15 years) with Texaco. The jumbo contract was then revised from a 30,000 dwt vessel to 58,000 dwt - the present Baltimore Trader which was delivered by Newport News in 1971 and immediately entered the Texaco charter. The approximate cost of the Baltimore Trader jumboization was $14M (including $1.5M cost of the Thirtle).
In January 1972 the marine interests of American Trading and Production Corporation were transferred to a newly formed subsidiary American Trading Transportation Co., Inc.
In January 1973 the Washington Trader (ex Monitor) was scrapped in Taiwan for $397,000.
In September 1975 the Thetis, renamed Washington Trader, was purchased for $4,880,000.
In November 1975 the Virginia Trader (ex Seven Seas) was sold for scrap in Spain for$336,064.
The Maryland Trader (ex Crown Trader/Carnifax Ferry) was scrapped in Spain for $400,556 in February of 1976.
On May 7, 1980, Attransco contracted to build three 50,000 dwt product carriers with options to build three more at Nassco, San Diego, with the first two vessels scheduled for delivery the latter part: of 1982 and the third in the first half of 1983. In October 1981, Atapcorp purchased the Arco Prestige (renamed Pennsylvania Trader) from Arco for $12M for General Agency operation by Attransco.
The foregoing is simply a skeleton narrative of Atapcorp/Attransco from 1938 to 1982. A fuller version should include more detail about World War II operations including not only the workings of N.S.A. but the Maritime War Emergency Board, War Shipping Panel and the way the crews of merchant ships were integrated with the military operation while still retaining their identity as private employees of the shipping industry. Also the labor history of Atapcorp’s Marine Division should be enlarged upon, such as the formation of ATOA in 1952 and the entry of the N.M.U. into the picture.
Additionally, there are many more than those mentioned herein who made major contributions to the success and viability of Atapcorp/Attransco and the story cannot be complete without them.
Frank J. Murphy




 



Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Settee and Chair, day 8

Today I finished the gluing.
video

Monday, January 12, 2015

Settee and Chair. Day 7

I did some minor gluing yesterday and moved on to gluing up the three failure spots today; the center support and the two back joints. I've been curious whether those two back joints are original to the piece, or part of a later repair. I've found the answer by googling and finding several photos of Meeks settees that clearly show those joints. Most telling is the description and photos of this lot in a 2011 Cowan Auction, where the back is also "loose and needs reglued": http://www.cowanauctions.com/auctions/item.aspx?id=95062

Here is today's episode:
video

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Settee and Chair, days 4 and 5

Continuing on with the settee issues. Yesterday and today I worked exclusively on the crest carving...softening the glue with vinegar and working up to soaking the right amount of heat into the piece to get it to let go. Here's the result...
video

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Settee and Chair, Part 3

Today I made a little progress on the settee. I didn't originally intend to turn this into a documentary, but one thing leads to another. Here is day 3:
video

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Settee and Chair. Part 2

A further look at the Meeks settee to evaluate its structural problems and how to fix them.
video

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

J. and J. W. Meeks Settee and Chair

I'm uploading this short video to document what I've discovered so far about the condition of the settee and armchair we recently acquired at Oak Hill Cottage from the estate of Wilda Lee Preston, great granddaughter of Dr. Jones of Oak Hill. These are laminated rosewood pieces, generically referred to as "Belter" after the manufacturer who originated this type of construction. Ours were made by the J. and J. W. Meeks furniture company in the "Hartford" pattern. At Oak Hill we had one side chair of this set still in the house, so now the set consists of three pieces.
video

Friday, July 11, 2014

hancock heights

The Historical Society has completed research on 417 Annadale Ave. in Mansfield and has taken a position opposing the proposed demolition by the new county land bank.


Description:

417 Annadale Avenue is one of ten identical brick houses situated across Olivesburg Road from the Reformatory in Mansfield, OH. Anecdotal evidence and the proximity to the Reformatory have suggested that they were built to house construction workers who were building the prison, or prison employees.

Construction of the Intermediate Penitentiary was begun in 1886.  Its name was officially changed to the Ohio State Reformatory in 1891, and it received its first prisoners in 1896, although construction continued after that date. 

Hancock and Dow, a local construction firm specializing in stonework, was awarded the initial construction contract. Robert G. Hancock and William Dow were the principals of the partnership. Hancock had emigrated from England in 1870, bringing large scale cut-stone work to Mansfield.  Mr. Hancock was married prior to leaving England, and the couple had nine children, of whom four survived him as heirs on his death in 1909. They were Ada (Underwood), Robert J., Albert E., and Anna (Goodwin). 

The parcel of land on which the 10 houses sit was originally part of the Wise farm, on which resided Mansfield resident Phoebe Wise, made famous by stories written by Louis Bromfield. Phoebe had sold 34 acres to the State of Ohio in 1885, making up part of the land on which the new prison was to be built.  In 1892 the remainder of the Wise farm was sold at sheriff’s sale to satisfy the Wise heirs, and a 26 1/2 acre parcel was purchased by Robert J. Hancock.


1873

1896

 


The ten houses built on the northern tip of the 26 1/2 acre were called Hancock Heights.  The school at the corner of Olivesburg Rd. and Fleming Falls Rd. was called Hancock Heights School and is shown on the 1896 map which is part of the county atlas of that year. 

The first city directory to list residents of the allotment was in 1899, but prior to that time did not list addresses that far out of the city.  The addresses were 1, 3, 5, and 7 Olivesburg Rd. and six unnumbered addresses.  H. C. Castor, the Assistant Superintendent at the Reformatory, was listed at 1 Olivesburg Rd.  Seven of the remaining properties were occupied by the families of Reformatory guards.  One occupant was listed with no occupation noted, and one of the unnumbered addresses was occupied by Albert E. Hancock with his occupation listed as engineer. 

By 1904 the directory listed the addresses as 1, 3, 5, and 7 Olivesburg Rd., 1, 3, 5, and 7 Anna, and 3 and 5 Robert (or Roberts).  Occupants were more diverse, including teachers at the Reformatory, a brushmaker, and a foreman at the Ohio Brass. 

After Robert G. Hancock died in 1909 there was some division of the larger property among the brothers and sister, with Robert J., his son, still owning the Hancock Heights parcel. 

Albert E. Hancock (son of R. G.) was advertising rentals in the paper in 1910 though 1912.

 


 
The Hancock Heights allotment was an enterprise of the Hancock family to provide rental housing for married employees of the Reformatory. Other than the Superintendent’s quarters in the prison, there was no accommodation for wives and children. The state owned employee housing for guards and officers consisted of barracks within the prison walls. The division and sale of the Wise farm must have presented an opportunity for the Hancock’s to fill this need. Some of the anecdotal evidence agrees with this rationale: that the houses provided affordable rental housing for employees with families.  

The allotment was platted in 1947 as the Anna Wolf Allotment, and the street names later changed to Annadale and Gare.  417 Annadale Ave. was originally 3 Anna Ave.

Significance
Hancock Heights is a small community of ten identical houses representing a 19th Century rental housing development. It was situated to provide affordable housing for families employed at the state owned prison, across the road. A frame, one room schoolhouse, no longer standing, was built at about the same time as the houses. Numerous references in newspaper articles to “Hancock Heights” throughout the first half of the 20th Century make it evident that the community was well-known and required no further identification.

The ten houses in Hancock Heights are very similar to the small brick houses built as rentals on the south side of Mansfield by German bricklayer and contractor, Jacob Scholl.  Like the Scholl houses, Hancock Heights is evidence of rental property development in the late 1800s which might otherwise not be evident, if not for these modest brick houses.

Hancock Heights is associated with Robert G. Hancock, the stone contractor who brought large cut-stone construction methods to Mansfield, incorporated in landmark buildings here. On his death in 1909, the subsequent divisions of the larger property among his children, and the fact that son Albert had resided in one of the houses and acted as rental agent, suggests that it was a family enterprise, rather than just a project of son Robert J. whose name is on the deed.

All ten original houses still stand, and there is no evidence yet found that any other houses were built. Without question the community of ten brick houses, if kept intact, qualifies as a local or national historic district. 

 

 

 

Friday, May 9, 2014

mechanics bank

An article in the News Journal today features the renovation of the buildings along South Main Street in Mansfield by Mechanics Bank.  Not mentioned in the article, but an important aspect of how this renovation was planned, is the fact that the buildings are in the Central Park Historic District and had to pass muster through the design review process before the Historic Preservation Commission. 

"Much of the building’s original structure has been kept intact, including red brick walls and sweeping archways. Modern touches have been added, including an indoor brick walkway named 'The Mechanics Way,' which is complete with lampposts, a storefront and decorative ceiling. The brick walkway leads to the courtyard."

This marks a change in direction for Mechanics from previous expansions and updating of its downtown headquarters.  Former expansions into the adjacent building westward on Park Avenue and south on Main Street into the former Smart's music store building involved near featureless cladding of the storefronts with pink marble, a practice that would not have gained approval under the design guidelines now in place since 2003. 

The News Journal website has a gallery of pictures from yesterday's open house (link above) if you can get past the pay wall and tolerate the advertising.  Here are a few pictures from my files of the way it used to be.

c. 2005
 

2003
 
16 S Main 2003

 

Little Journeys Bookshop 16 S. Main

2002
Renovation at Uncle John's, next door in 2011.
2002
 




c. 1900

Bowland Mansion, where Mechanics Bank now stands.


Fox Hunt

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

181 s franklin ave

The News Journal reports a fire destroyed 181 S. Franklin Ave. last night.  This is one of the Jacob Scholl built houses featured in previous posts.  The house was vacant, but with electricity still on, according to the NJ. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

more jacob scholl properties

NCSC Urban Center, N. Main Street
 

The 1882 map of Mansfield shows these two buildings and one behind them owned by Jacob Scholl, and undoubtedly built by him.  (see the previous post about 320 Altamont)
9/10/2013 Correction to the above caption:  Peggy Mershon has brought to my attention a notice in the Mansfield Herald of Dec. 4, 1879 which states that Jacob Scholl has purchased these N. Main Street buildings from Senator John Sherman.  Scholl was in the process of erecting the brick warehouse in the rear, but assuming he built these two buildings is very doubtful.  Sherman partnered with Jacob Emminger in a sash factory business across the alley to the rear of this location.  Emminger was an engineer and a builder as well. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

320 altamont avenue

The Richland County Historical Society reviews proposed demolitions prior to their being submitted to the Ohio Preservation Office for Section 106 Review, which determines whether the property is historically significant and may require remediation.  If our review warrants comments, they are included with the city's submission to Columbus.  The property at 320 Altamont was recently singled out for demolition, and the following article is our commentary on its significance.  Hopefully this will help forestall the loss of this house, and others built by Jacob Scholl in the mid 19th Century.

Commentary
 
320 Altamont is a 1 1/2 story, gabled brick house located in an addition to the city that was platted in 1863.  The street name was originally Cemetery St. and the house number was 9.  At the time the house was built and still today it is on the short street that approaches the entrance to the Mansfield Cemetery.   It is one of a number of similar houses built on the South side of the city by Jacob Scholl (Shull), a German immigrant stonemason.   
 


Jacob Scholl was born in Bavaria in 1808 and immigrated in 1840 after the death of his parents.  He married in Mansfield in 1844 and practiced the trade of stonemason.  He is mentioned in Graham’s 1880 History of Richland County, OH as the successful bidder in 1846 to construct fire cisterns in the city.  In 1850 he went to the gold fields in California, apparently with little luck, and returned.  He and his wife had nine children, 7 of whom survived.  Brothers John and Peter Scholl partnered in the oil and gas business.  Brothers Joe and Jacob Jr. partnered in the drug business.  

Jacob Scholl acquired a large amount of property in the city.  His obituary mentions “business blocks” and dwellings.  An existing building at 215 N. Main Street on lot 310 is the “Scholl Block”.  He made his home at 111 S. Diamond St. which today is a house within the complex of buildings of the Diamond View assisted living facility.  On parallel streets, S. Franklin and S. Adams, there are 9 other examples of the 1 1/2 story brick houses built by Scholl.  All are modest sized consisting of a 26 x 16 front gabled body with a 16 x 16 side gabled wing.  Additional examples may be uncovered with additional research.
 
His obituary mentions that he contracted for street improvements and was a building contractor.   Some of the houses he built on Franklin and Adams St. would appear to have been kept as rental properties.  Perhaps most were rentals, but further research into the titles of each one would be necessary.  At least on the 1882 map, Jacob Scholl’s name is on multiple of these houses.
Jacob Scholl died in 1902.  The Mansfield News mentioned on May 28, 1902 that the meeting of the Pioneer Society on June 7 at the Madison Grange Hall would include a “general obituary of all the pioneers who have died in the county during the year”, naming Jacob Scholl as one of the subjects.  His newspaper obituary appeared in the Mansfield Shield on April 3rd of that year. 
 
The modest brick houses built by Jacob Scholl on the city’s south side are significant in being the craftsmanship of German immigrant tradesmen of the mid-19th Century, representing one of the many nationalities of people who made up the population of Mansfield.  The houses are very similar to the houses built by German immigrants in German Village Historic District in Columbus, Ohio.
 
Judging by the 1882 map these little houses have had a very high survival rate, and their historic integrity seldom marred by modern work.   They are all of a size that is within the ability of the individual homeowner to maintain or restore. 
Gallery of Houses Built by Jacob Scholl on S. Adams and S. Franklin
 




 




 
 
 

 
 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

documenting 147 w. first st.

The following is documentation the Historical Society developed relating to 147 W. First St. which has apparently been torn down by the city without historical review. 

The house at 147 W. First Street is located on the west half of lot 2310 in a group of several lots just to the west and at the SW corner and outside of the original city boundary laid out in 1808.  The area is designated as Sturges Subdivision, originally owned by E. P. Sturges.  The ground was within the old Methodist graveyard according to the 1853 map of the city.  Adjacent, and within the city boundary was the Presbyterian graveyard, later to be occupied by the First Ward School, shown on the 1882 map of the city.  By that time the Methodist graveyard had also been removed and the area developed into lots. 

Like many houses in that district, 147 W. First Street is predominantly a Queen Anne style house.  It has the asymmetrical massing and irregular floorplan that are common elements of the style. A square tower or turret rises to a third story height between the main front gable and a prominent gabled side bay. Fishscale shingles cover the upper face of the gables and narrow clapboard siding covers the balance of the exterior walls.  Windows on the second floor of the turret and front gable are topped in a Gothic fashion. Eastlake elements predominate otherwise in bullseye motifs on the trim beneath the third floor level of the turret, incised carving of large brackets holding up the eaves of the bay gable and of gable trim elements, and the turned porch posts. 
 
Architectural historian Craig Bobby has given the opinion that the house and its neighbors are derived from plans by Palliser, Palliser & Co. shown in their 1878 catalog, Plate. 14. 
 
 
147 W. First Street was built c. 1885 along with two houses to the east identical in floor plan, form and roof line.  The trim elements of the three houses are different. It was first occupied by Harry Orwig, a travelling salesman, whose residence is first listed there in the 1886-87 city directory and numbered 44 at that time.

The existing residential neighborhood that includes W. First Street and W. Second Street out to Sturges Avenue was identified in the city’s Preservation Plan in 1985 as a priority for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.  Little has changed in that area until the recent spate of vacant properties, blight, and demolitions have threatened it.  The eminent demolition of this house, and its neighbor at 143 W. First street, would create a large gap in an otherwise unbroken block face. 143 and 147 are two of three side by side houses that are identical, save for the trim elements. A large imposing brick house at the east end of this block face has been inappropriately gutted by its owner and will be unlikely to survive.  The proposed demolition of 143 and 147 will leave two occupied Victorian era houses isolated from the neighborhood on the east end of this block.  Across the street demolitions have begun to seriously encroach, already isolating houses on the edge of the neighborhood nearest St. Peter’s School. 

147 W. First Street is RIC 0228-11 on the Ohio Historic Inventory.

The house has architectural qualities that would make it eligible for the National Register of Historic Places and is part of an area that Judith Williams, the author of Mansfield’s Preservation Plan, identified as a potential National Register Historic District, of which Mansfield has none established at this time.

 

 

update on 147 w. first st.

147 W. First St.
In 2009 at the worst juncture in the Historical Society's struggle with the city over Section 106 Review, this house at 147 W. First St. came up for a Council vote to be demolished.  At that time HUD had suspended NSP funding to the city because of the administration's ongoing disregard for the review process, and for not recognizing the Historical Society as a consulting party.  I spoke up at the Council meeting urging them not to vote on this because there had been no Section 106 Review of it, and it's being on the Ohio Historical Inventory and in a potential Historic District.  Mayor Culliver, however, urged Council to take the vote but that the demolition would be held up until the review had been completed.  Council voted 5-4 to demolish. 
In the 3 years since that time no further action was taken by the city.  Brian Dormaier and I secured the board-up and mowed the property.  Home Depot donated materials and Worner Roofing put a patch on the roof at one point.  Our ongoing efforts were made to keep the property from attracting further city attention, as long as nothing was moving forward. 
Unfortunately last month we became aware that the city has torn it down.  I've contacted Community Development and they have been promising to give us the review documents or Ohio State Preservation Office approval, but we are coming up on 1 1/2 months now with nothing forthcoming.  I'm assuming at this point that no review was done.  This is disheartening considering all the work that has gone into reviewing hundreds of demolitions for over three years now.  Out of all of those properties, the Historical Society had spoken up for this house, its neighbor at 143 W. First, and 331 Prescott.  143 W. First had dropped off the radar because it had a new owner. 
Another situation that we are in right now is that the city has not exercised a proper Programmatic Agreement with the SHPO, and with the Historical Society signed on as a consulting party.  We are now dangerously close to the same situation we were in in 2009 when NSP funding was suspended.

Monday, April 22, 2013

laundry building at the county home (dayspring)

This is the last remaining Richland County building from the 1870s era, which once included the Courthouse, Jail, Infirmary, and Children's Home.  All of these were brick with the banded stone pattern.  I've posted this here for a link from the I Love Mansfield facebook page.  This building, being north of the city and out of its industrial and coal-burning atmosphere is cleaner and brighter that the memories people have of the buildings in town.