The National Copper and Smelting Company is a now demolished factory on East 123rd Street in the Little Italy neighbourhood of Cleveland, Ohio. After relocating, the site was reused by Woodhill Supply and by the American Heart Association for the storage of boxes of rubber ducks.


History

The Little Italy neighbourhood was established in the latter half of the 19th century by immigrants mainly from Italy’s Abruzzi region. 1 By 1874, the community began to be subdivided, and an area adjacent to Lake View Cemetery, along what became Monroe Avenue (later Carabell Street and today’s East 123rd Street), was sold to Anderson & Barnard for a linear subdivision.

Anderson & Barnard subdivision.

After 1868 and before 1875, the East Cleveland Railway Company was extended as far southwest as the Cleveland & Pittsburgh Railroad tracks at Monroe Avenue. 2 The streetcar company, established in 1860, was operated by horsecars that ferried passengers along iron-strapped wooden rails. Around the time of the extension, the company acquired lots six, seven and eight along Monroe Avenue (then renamed Carabell Street) for use as horse stables.

Cleveland Electric Railway Company stables and fleet centre in 1898.

The East Cleveland Railway Company began electrification efforts in 1884, 2 and the horse stables were converted into a streetcar maintenance facility by the 1890’s. The streetcar firm was purchased by the Cleveland Electric Railway Company in 1893. 3

Cleveland Electric Railway Company fleet shops in 1912.

National Copper and Smelting Company

The National Copper and Smelting Company was founded in Cleveland in 1916. 4 On January 10, 1920, 6 the firm announced that it was acquiring a building from the Babin-Sill Company Company 7 on the site of the former Cleveland Electric Railway Company maintenance shops its new Cleveland plant, where it would produce seamless drawn copper and brass tubing. 5 6 It would augment its Detroit operations.

National Copper and Smelting relocated to Huntsville, Alabama in 1982. 4

A 1927-37 Sanborn Fire Insurance map that shows the Dougherty Lumber Company and the National Copper and Smelting Company occupying the former streetcar plot.

The National Copper and Smelting property was reused by Woodhill Supply, a distributor of HVAC, PVF and plumbing supplies. 8 A piece of the building was used by the American Heart Association to store boxes of rubber ducks, which were used for an annual race down the Cuyahoga River.

Citing the escalating costs of maintenance on the property and the lack of room for trucks to move within the property and through the neighbourhood’s one-way streets, Woodhill Supply relocated to South Marginal Road near East 55th Street in 2010. 8

In mid-2014, Visconsi Companies announced that it had a purchase contract for the abandoned Woodhill Supply site and was proposing to construct 150 apartments once the buildings were demolished. 8

The derelict site caught fire on September 27, 2015, around 10:30 a.m. 9 One firefighter suffered minor injuries as dozens of others extinguished the blaze. After the blaze had settled, the city demolished most of the Woodhill Supply lot.

Sources