The Jamestown Journal editor gazed optimistically into the future in his January 2, 1920, editorial. He saw good times ahead - "... if every one puts his shoulder to the wheel we can make this old city hum with running wheels of industry ..."
Local furniture manufacturing provided the editorial writer with cause for optimism. When the Furniture Exposition resumed in 1919 after its 1918 cancellation, prices were higher because of a relative scarcity of furniture and higher labor costs. By 1920 factories were again busy. Furniture makers were exploring new technologies.
William Maddox, a local wood furniture maker, devised 22 labor-saving machines for use in the process of table making. These automatic rubbing, grinding, and polishing machines decreased hand labor. They shortened the entire finishing process.
True to prediction, both spring and fall Furniture Expositions of 1920 were successful. ... Feature articles referred to Jamestown as the clearing house of the industry, setting trends in styles, design, and price. The Furniture Index, the national trade magazine, wrote that the local furniture had a peculiar advantage because it offered "Sturdy construction for long service aided by popular and not extreme design."
The decade of the 1920s saw the full flowering of the furniture industry in Jamestown. However, if Jamestown hoped to continue its preeminence, additional public lodging facilities were required. (With the opening of the Furniture Mart in 1917, the number of out of town exhibitors and buyers had increased. Among these were buyers from prestigious department stores such as Gimbels, John Wanamakers and Bloomingdales.)
The Anderson brothers, Frank O., Arthur, and Oscar, owners of the Empire Case Goods Company, took a major lead in the project to build a new downtown hotel. Twenty enthusiastic stock-selling teams collected $1,225,000 in less than a week in December 1922. Quarter page newspaper ads " ... were designed to open the purse strings of the most ... hard-boiled citizen."
The choice for the site of the new hotel required the demolition of the old Presbyterian Church on the northwest corner of West Third and Cherry Streets. The progress of the church razing and the construction and furnishing of the new house of worship on Prendergast Avenue between Fifth and Sixth Street paralleled the excitement of the hotel's construction.
Frederick Hall, the editor of the Jamestown Journal, had a deep interest in the hotel project. He served on the executive planning committee throughout the entire process. The Journal printed a full-page story, complete with pictures at the hotel's completion. A festive dinner-dance marked the opening of the Hotel Jamestown on New Year's Eve 1924.
(This story is an excerpt from the book, "An ImPRESSive Record; Jamestown Journal 1826 to 1941" by Helen G. Ebersole. The book is available for sale at the offices of The Post-Journal and the Fenton History Center for $15. It may also be ordered for delivery by mail. Send a check for $18.35, which includes tax and shipping, to: The Post-Journal History Book, Box 190, Jamestown, NY 14702-0190. The 115 year-old Jamestown Journal merged with the Morning Post in 1941 to become The Post-Journal.)