The following information about the history of the Open Wabi property has been compiled from newspaper clippings, interviews with former employees, courthouse records. and the actual experience of the writer.
– John F. Jones, Fredericktown, Ohio
Fire, Expansion, and the Fredericktown Community Campaign
After a fire had destroyed the molding room of the J.B. Foote Foundry on June 19, 1913, J.B. Foote decided to sell his interest in the foundry. On July 10, F.B. Zieg and R.Y. Struble purchased and took possession of the business. The damaged part of the molding room was soon rebuilt and placed under the management of F.B. Zieg.
When F.B. Zieg rebuilt, he made provisions for an enlargement. At this time the company was manufacturing cast iron bells, sewer pipe, road graders, scrapers and other related miscellaneous items.
Mr. Zieg was very aggressive with a driving energy. Although the company had made provisions for expansion, after only two years the facility was too small to accommodate the fast growing business. As a result, Mr. Zieg was seeking a new, more desirable location, which would possibly include a railroad siding for a better receiving and shipping facility.
Several cities offered big incentives for this fast growing company to locate elsewhere. Many of the workmen who had built and purchased their homes in Fredericktown were afraid that they would be compelled to move away and find other work and the business men of Fredericktown were likely to lose considerable business if the manufacturing facility was removed. It had become a substantial part of the local economy.
The local business men (or commercial club) of Fredericktown called a special meeting of all parties. They had the welfare of the community at heart. These men visited the Zieg plant to learn about the business and to view the limited manufacturing facilities. As a result of this meeting, there was a campaign to raise money and subscribe $30,000 worth of stock in the F.B. Zieg Manufacturing Company.
The campaign was very successful and after only 11 days on May 21, 1915, all $30,000 worth of stock had been sold. This assured the retention of this enterprising and important company in Fredericktown. Shortly thereafter, in August 1915, a new location in the southeast corner of the village had been selected and construction was begun on the new manufacturing building at 66 Mount Vernon Avenue.
F.B. Zieg Manufacturing
The factory and office building were built as an extension to the F.B. Zieg Manufacturing Company, which was located on North Main Street, where the J.B. Foote Foundry now stands. The new facility was used in a similar manner as the foundry. However, when war was declared in 1918, company become involved with war contract work for the U.S. Army and Navy. A steam hammer was added to manufacture war products. At the time, they had been manufacturing wooden washing machines.
Following the war, Mr. John Gould, an associate of Mr. F.B. Zieg, submitted an idea and drew up plans to manufacture playground equipment and a line of economy furniture. As a result, Mr. Zieg incorporated a sawmill. This sawmill was located on Mill Street, just across the bridge where the D & B Body Shop now stands.
The logs were originally cut in the woods by hand (there were no chain saws) and transported to the mill by horses and wagons. They were later transported by Silver King and Fordson tractors. The lumber at the mill was stacked and blocked for air drying and later transferred to the dry kilns which were located just east of the manufacturing plant. Some of the original log haulers were Harley Robinson, Clint Robinson, Guy Reed, Tommy Higgins, Al Mossholder, and Kenneth Higgins. Harley Robinson was later promoted to saw mill manager.
The saw mill generated a large pile of sawdust which caught fire due to internal combustion and smoldered for a number of years. This became a village landmark.
North of the sawmill, along the Kokosing River,, Mr. Zieg developed a swimming facility to display the playground equipment. He built two large bath houses, diving platforms and boards, large and small water slides, teeter totters, swings, a merry-go-round, etc., all of which were for customer viewing and public use. People for miles around took advantage of this fine facility.
As business at the F.B. Zieg Manufacturing Company increased, expansion of the building was necessary. In 1924, after several additions to the building had been made, the roof on a portion of the south section was raised to make room for a second story building. During the mid 1920s, the company manufactured various end tables and magazine stands which were spray painted green, red, gold, and black, then stenciled with a gold decal which was very popular at that time. They also manufactured cabinets, dinette tables, chairs, occasional tables, and smoking stands. Many of the tables were referred to as K.D. or “knocked down,” which meant that after finishing they were “knocked down” or taken apart to facilitate more compact shipping. Practically all of the furniture was shipped by rail to Chicago and then sold and distributed from a central location.
After much growth and expansion, the approximately 60 x 600 foot building, with a 300 foot second story, 200 foot shipping dock, and spur railroad siding was sold to Sun Glow Industries.
Sun Glow Industries
In April 1929, the F.B. Zieg Manufacturing company was sold to Sun Glow Industries. Sun Glow had furniture manufacturing plants in Mansfield, Logan, and Tipp City, OH. Mr. F.B. Zieg was retained as company president and William Switzer as Vice President.
Although the hourly pay scale was very low, Sun Glow was able to continue operating through the Great Depression. This was very helpful to the Fredericktown economy.
SunGlow continued to manufacture many of the products that had been manufactured by Zieg. However, they began to diversify into maple bedroom furniture, knee hole desks, secretarial desk units, gate leg tables, end tables, and a variety of occasional tables and book cases. The Zieg sawmill was phased out and the lumber materials were purchased and shipped in instead.
Much of the wood Sun Glow used was poplar, gum, and maple. All of which were either dipped or sprayed with maple or walnut stain and then sprayed with lacquer. Like Zieg, the main distribution center for Sun Glow furniture products was Chicago.
Sun Glow closed its doors in 1950. Three years later, in 1953, the building was sold to the Buchsman Co..