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Grain elevator cost $250,000 to build in 1947

By Henry Timman • Dec 14, 2018 at 12:00 PM

Late last month many of us watched as the former Huron County Farm Bureau, aka Landmark, aka the Sunrise grain elevator, on Old State Road at Townsend Avenue was razed.

This might sound insignificant, except the elevator consisted of a great deal of poured concrete and was 101 feet tall.

This facility was built late in 1947 and opened for business about Jan. 1, 1948. The project was estimated to cost $250,000, which was a lot of money in 1947. The pouring of concrete began in October 1947 and work went on around the clock to keep up with the schedule completion.

The Huron County Farm Bureau owned the property and was then operating a grain elevator at 38 Wooster St. about where the St. Paul school gymnasiums are located now. This was a crowded space and created a good deal of dust in the neighborhood. The site had been a grain elevator and coal yard since about 1909, so no doubt the neighbors were happy to see the business move away.

In 1947, the bureau also was operating a lumber yard on North Foster Street at the corner of Rule Street. This lumber yard had begun life as the Robert Hixon Co. about 1908; it later took in a Mr. Peterson as a partner and even later was owned by the Garretson Co. It ceased business about 1977 and the buildings were torn down.

The bureau was formed in 1916 with Fred Liles, of Collins, as president. Between that year and 1925, it helped organize a Wool Growers organization, the Huron County Livestock Co., an investment service bureau to monitor potential investment scams against farmers, as well as forming an agricultural society which revived the Huron County Fair in 1921. Other organizations which the bureau helped activate were a co-op cream station in Bellevue, a co-op grain elevator and a program to test cows for tuberculosis, to ensure that safe milk and meat was on the public market. When the rural electrification program was implemented as part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, the Ohio farm bureau led the movement to provide electricity to rural farms and then to form electric cooperatives to ensure a power supply.

I want to mention that at the same time the bureau elevator was built in 1947, the Spino Construction Co. was opening the Maplehurst subdivision at the east end of St. Mary’s Street. They began by building nine six-room houses now known as numbers 173 through 189. The street at the time wasn’t paved, but the city street department put down a fresh layer of stone so people could view the new homes.

Now, I have to tell a story about the 1947 elevator construction. I was 4 1/2 years old at the time and one evening I was riding with my uncle past the construction site and there were lights all through the tower. Uncle Henry commented that “they must be working around the clock.” I didn’t know what that meant and presumed that a clock to tell time was being installed. Soon after, I told my older brother said they were putting a clock in the new elevator. He doubted me for some reason, but I replied that Uncle Henry had said so. It was quickly explained to me what the phrase “around the clock” meant, so I ended up more educated than I had been.

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REMEMBER: My “Just Like Old Times” books are on sale at New Directions Design, 20 W. Main St., in downtown Norwalk. These contain my earlier columns fully indexed and in permanent book form.

Henry Timman, an authority on Firelands history, resides in rural Norwalk.

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