Forbidden City Tour: City Mills

With much thanks to Downtown Mansfield Inc. and Preservation Ohio, hundreds were able to enjoy learning more about Mansfield, Ohio’s history and were given the opportunity to tour five sites within walking distance, including City Mills – the first leg in this five part series.

The City Mills Building was originally constructed in 1847. The five-story building was difficult to construct, as it was located within a swampy area. An insuecure foundation led to delays early in its construction, and 1,300 loads of ground and swamp was replaced with 600 perch of stone work. The stonework for which the machinery was installed upon was completed by Gandert and Sons. The brick was burned at the local Everly Brick Works and laid by Foulke and Mohler. The architect and contractor for construction was Cyrus Hershiser.

When completed, the building served as a warehouse and terminus for the Sandusky and Mansfield Railroad, later part of the Baltimore and Ohio, that was completed that year. The warehouse was then renovated for Burger and Brubaker, who installed machinery for a flour mill. Dr. Joseph Hildredth had a large interest in this enterprise called City Mills. The building contained 13 sets of iron rollers, two sets of mill stones quarried from Tobias Cline’s quarry east of the city, eight large wheat cleaners, two flour packing machines, eight patent dust removers and conveyers. There were two large boilers attached to a 125 horsepower William Wright automatic engine of Newburgh, New York.

Around 1865, Frank A. and Andrus Gilbert purchased the City Milling Company. Four years later, J.M. Waugh joined City Milling and the company became known as the Gilbert, Waugh Milling Company. But to increase production from 200 barrels to 350 barrels a day, the business sought fit to renovate the building and install higher capacity production equipment. An addition was built in 1881 for $35,000 and the original structure was then demolished. It is believed that the 1881 structure occupies part of the 1847 lot.

Newspaper advertisements from 1881 listed Giblert, Waugh and Company as selling flour for as low as $1.40 for a hundred-pound sack. They manufactured several brands of flour, including Non Pareil, Victor, Morning Glory, City Mills, Millstone, Blue Diamond and Michigan Amber. By 1890, City Mills produced 40,000 barrels of flour a year.

One of Gilbert’s customers was The Steam Cracker Biscuit Works, located on West 4th Street, that later merged with several smaller companies to form the National Biscuit Company, or NABISCO.

In the 1920s and 1930s, the City Mills Building was home to John Aricon and Company, consisting of John, Charles, Andy and Joseph Amicon, who operated a produce commission house.

In 1986, the City Mills Building was added to the National List of Historical Landmarks.

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