Spirella Company

Industrial / New York

The Spirella Company manufactured corsets in Niagara Falls, New York. The factory was later renovated into a nursing home before relocating in 2003.


History

Corsets, tight, elongated bodice typically worn as an undergarment, first became popular in 16th-century European fashion and peaked in popularity during the Victorian era.

The Spirella Company was founded in 1904 3 by Marcus Meritt Beeman, William Wallace Kincaid and Jesse Horman Pardee in Meadville, Pennsylvania to manufacture corsets. 2 Based on a patent of dress bone 4 for bustles, the company produced made-to-measure corsets. The name “Spirella” was in reference to the Spirella Stay, invented by Beeman from tightly twisted and flattened coils of wire.

The company expanded into Buffalo in 1912 with the construction of a reinforced concrete and steel-framed factory at Main Street and Bellevue Avenue. 1

Corsets began to decline in popularity during the early 20th century as women began wearing brassieres and girdles which used less steel in their construction. Additionally, the advent of World War I in 1917 led to material shortages. The U.S. War Industries Board asked women to voluntarily stop buying corsets to free up metal for war production, which liberated approximately 28,000 tons of metal, enough to build two battleships. 9

In 1958, Spirella consolidated its declining operations to a facility on Lewis Avenue in Niagara Falls, Ontario. 8

Nursing Home

The former Spirella factory was renovated into a 130-bed nursing home by DeVeaux 5 in 1964. 6 Mount St. Mary’s Hospital, owned by the Sisters of St. Francis of Williamsville, acquired DeVeaux’s facility in 1989, renaming it Mount St. Mary’s Nursing Home. 5

The Catholic Health System proposed merging Mount St. Mary’s and St. Mary’s Manor nursing homes. 5 Tentative plans released in August 1997 7 showed a 144-bed, $15 million nursing home located at Mount St. Mary’s Hospital’s campus in Lewiston, but the idea was placed on hold when the sponsorship of the hospital changed. It was further delayed when Mount St. Mary’s and Niagara Falls Memorial Center considered a merger scheme in 1998.

Plans for a new nursing home on Mount St. Mary’s hospital campus was resurrected in July 2000. 6 The federal government would reimburse St. Mary’s $25 million over 30 years as it was estimated that 90% of the residents in the new facility would be utilizing Medicaid. State approval for a new nursing home to replace both Mount St. Mary’s and St. Mary’s Manor came in December. 5

Construction of a new 250-bed facility began in September 2001 and opened as Our Lady of Peace in 2003 at the cost of $39 million. 5 Mount St. Mary’s Nursing Home in Niagara Falls closed immediately after.


Gallery


Sources

  1. Sanborn map.
  2. “Exhibitions.” Garden City Collection. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Jan. 2017.
  3. “History.” Corsetiere. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Jan. 2017.
  4. Lauffenberger, Julie A. “Baleen in Museum Collections.” Journal of the American Institute for Conservation, vol. 32, no. 3, 1993, pp. 213-30.
  5. Franczyk, Annemarie. “Nursing home construction begun at Mount St. Mary’.” Buffalo Business First, 3 Sept. 2001, n.p.
  6. Michelmore, Bill. “Nursing Home Will Replace Aging Facilities.” Buffalo News, 7 Jul. 2000, pp. B5.
  7. “Lewiston Panel Will Review Plans for Nursing Home.” Buffalo News, 9 Aug. 1997, pp. B9.
  8. Kostoff, Bob. “Old-Time Carnival Days.” Niagara Falls Reporter, 10 May 2011, n.p.
  9. Phelps, Brian. “May Phelps Jacob.” Phelps Family History in America, 8 Aug. 2019.