Canton in the early 1920s became known as the Paving Brick Capital of the World. The Metropolitan Paving Brick Company of Canton shipped a record 92 million pavers in 1923, 20 percent of the nationwide production of paving bricks for that year. But Alliance, and many other parts of Stark County, were home to healthy clay products plants thanks to the county’s abundance of clay, as recounted in “The Brick and Tile Industry in Stark County 1809-1976” by C. Harold McCollam, published in 1976 by the Stark County Historical Society.
Alliance Fire Clay Company, incorporated Dec. 9, 1867, was the earliest known clay product company in Stark County. An advertisement taken from McKee’s 1868 Industry Directory of Alliance says the company made yellow and rockingham queensware, all kinds of stone-ware, chimney tops, draining tile, sewer pipe, &c., &c. B.F. Rosenberry was president; I. Martin, secretary and treasurer; and O.J. Heusted, general superintendent. In 1868 Rosenberry supplied bricks for the Alliance Opera House, which collapsed on June 2, 1886. The bricks came from the banks of the pond that was later part of the Glamorgan estate and were soft and weak. A four-family apartment house made of the same brick also collapsed.
The second known company was the Alliance Stone Ware and Terra Cotta Company. Proprietors were Henry H. Heusted and John Joseph. McCollam believes it was located in the former Alliance Fire Clay Company plant, which was in financial trouble by 1873. Alliance Stone Ware is listed as being at the “Foot of Freedom St.” and in an advertisement as on the “North Side of Freedom St.”
James B. Wilcox and 12 associates incorporated the Alliance Clay Product Co. in 1906, and Plant No. 1 was built at 1500 S. Mahoning Ave. Demand for paving brick for Ohio roads increased between 1910 and 1920, and the company’s biggest seller was its trademarked Speedway paver. Plant 2 adjoined the original plant, and Plant 3 was built in 1924 on Mahoning at U.S. Route 62. The company closed on May 1, 1970.
The Alliance Brick Co. was incorporated in 1909 with Alliance Review owner F.A. Hoiles as president. Plant No. 1 was built on Alliance-Sebring Road, Plant No. 2 east of Mahoning and Plant No. 3 in Darlington, Pa. The company was renamed Alliance Brick Corp. as a subsidiary of Linden-Market, a holding company formed in 1956 and named for the streets bordering the Review building. Review publisher Donald Peterson was president.
Whitacre-Greer Fireproofing Company Inc. was formed in 1916 by a merger of Whitacre Fireproofing Company of Waynesburg and Greer-Beatty Clay Company of Magnolia. Both at that time made hollow block and fire brick. J.J. Whitacre, grandson of John Whitacre, a surveyor who settled in Magnolia in the early 1830s and helped founder Richard Elson lay out and survey the village about 1834, organized The Whitacre Company of Magnolia in 1891 to manufacture hollow building blocks and fire brick. (Yes, they’re related to me, but distantly; my mother used to quip that she married the wrong Whitacre.) J.J. and two other businessmen formed the Beatty Fire Clay Company in 1891 to take advantage of flint clay, which was popular for steel plant refractories. That company closed in 1901 after the flint clay deposit was exhausted.
Property owner Wallen Beatty in 1901 joined with Richard Greer to form Greer-Beatty, later the Magnolia plant of Whitacre-Greer. The National Fireproofing Co. bought The Whitacre Company in 1902, which at one time owned 23 clay products plants in the U.S. J.J.’s brother Richard E. Whitacre founded the Whitacre Fireproofing Co. of Waynesburg in 1902 after J.J. sold his company to enter politics. Whitacre Fireproofing merged with Greer-Beatty in 1916 to form the Whitacre-Greer Fireproofing Co., and Whitacre-Greer bought the Alliance plant of Alliance Brick Corp. in 1972.
Maginty Tile Works was founded about 1900 near Maximo by Moses Keim. This small plant made building blocks and barn blocks. The company closed during the Depression, and Oliver Brumbaugh tried to revive the business in the early 1930s, but the plant closed again in 1937.
The Renkert Building in Canton still stands as testament to the strength and durability of pavers, which also underlay many of our city streets, making their appearance occasionally during road construction. Concrete has largely replaced bricks, but bricks possess a warm appeal that concrete lacks. Concrete block companies bend over backward trying to make building blocks and garden pavers look like brick and stone, but look closely and you’ll see the difference in the texture. Nothing can beat a brick.
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