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The Shreve Chair Factory in Spartansburg was located on the site of the early saw mill (started by the Akins brothers in about 1830) that was originally a part of what is now Platt’s Mill. The saw mill property passed through the ownership of John Jude and George Eldred and John Thompson. Eldred took over the management of the saw mill until it burned in 1894. Following his death in 1899, his estate sold 5 acres where the mill had been located to the Shreve Chair Company in Union City. (That property location was where part of Clear Lake Lumber operates now.) That sale was published in the August 17, 1906 Titusville Herald. The Shreve Chair Company main factory was located in Union City where the MFG complex is now (2022). It was north of the railroad tracks between Atlantic and South Streets on 4th Avenue. The maps show the location in 1911 and now Shreve Chair started in 1903 and continued through several fires until 1939. Spartansburg’s branch began soon after the property acquisition in 1906. Work was underway in 1907 according to information from an August issue of “The Spartansburg Sentinel”. In July of 1907, a worker, Clarence Smith, was badly injured while attending the operations at the plant. The Spartansburg factory suffered fires, including one in 1917, rebuilt to continue in operation for several years. (Reported in Mill Supplies Magazine) Managers included Byron Bixby and TB (Bert) Wallace. Under Bixby’s management, the factory began by producing wooden kitchen chairs. Later, it was decided to be more profitable for Spartansburg to turn the pieces needed for the chairs and to have them assembled in Union City. Wallace was sent from Union City to oversee the plant here. This article from January of 1918 reports that the plant will re-open once it has enough logs drawn in by area teams. (Logging was accomplished more easily in the winter when horse-drawn sleds could bring the logs from the woods.) They hoped to employ 12-14 men. The factory succumbed to fire in about 1924 and was not rebuilt. Mr Wallace remained in Spartansburg to operate a store selling furniture and shoes (according to the 1930 and 1940 census). Shreve Chair was one of 3 large and several smaller chair factories in Union City. Some folks may remember that a huge chair was displayed at Main and High Street until the 1960s, claiming that Union City was the “Chair Center of the World”. That chair was manufactured by Shreve Chair Factory. While this chair was produced after the Spartansburg factory closed, we played a role in the success of the business for more than 20 years. There may still be some Shreve chairs in use in Spartansburg-only quality came from our workers!
James P Hearn served the photographic needs of Spartansburg, Waterford and Union City for several years starting in about 1875. This news article from the Titusville Herald, October 18, 1895 mentions Hearn. He likely had a small shop above one of the stores on Main Street where he worked a few days each month. Hearn was born in Devonshire, England in 1846. He immigrated to Canada in 1872 and studied photography there. He maintained a studio in Union City, rebuilding following a fire in 1879. He is included in the 1884 version of the History of Erie County: Here are some examples of Hearn’s photography in what was known as “cabinet cards”. Hearn later moved with his family to Olean, NY in about 1894, where he continued his business at 1114 State Street until shortly before his death in 1922.
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