WVHANCOC-L ArchivesArchiver > WVHANCOC > 1999-02 > 0919536738
From: Janet Waite <>
Subject: [WVHANCOC-L] Historic Chester Sites
Date: Sat, 20 Feb 1999 13:52:18 -0500
I've finished typing the first of several articles from The Messenger.
These articles will eventually be uploaded as text files and links added on
the main Hancock County Website. Hope you will enjoy them.
Historical Compilation by Roy Cashdollar
Source: The Messenger Volume 3 Issue 31 Thursday, October 30, 1997
Courtesy of Mr. Greg Rayburn Editor/Owner
THE MERRY-GO-ROUND AND ROCK SPRINGS PARK
The Merry-Go-Round and the Cyclone were teh two most popular rides at old
Rock Springs Park which had its beginning as an amusement park in 1898
late Jim McDonald. Prior to that, the park had two different owners and
used for picnics or family outings. The bridge construction moved the park
In 1900, C.A. Smith purchased the park and added many new rides. Mr. Smith
the horses for the Merry-Go-Round from a well-known company in
carvings of these horses made them very valuable to antique dealers. Many
living here today can remember when as small children they tried to grab
ring to get a free ride. In addition to the large number of rides, the
beautiful grounds, a swimming pool, a lake, a small zoo, and even live
Rock Springs Park may be gone from the area but the memories of those happy
it will never be gone. There were often crowds of over 20,000 people at
some of the
larger picnics. People would come by excursion boats, trains, or
special picnic days or important holidays, the park had giant fireworks
The Golden Star picnic was especially popular because ice cream was given
CHESTER HIGH SCHOOL
Chester High School was completed in 1926 by the Finley Brothers.
in 1925 and the school was dedicated on January 4, 1926. At first it
consisted of 12
classrooms with two being done by the WPA during the depression. The WPA
provided a nice auditorium and gymnasium. Prior to this addition,
graduation was held
at Rock Springs Park, the Presbyterian Church, or the City Hall auditorium.
class to graduate from Chester High School was in 1962, and after that all
attended the new Oak Glen High School. The old high school is now used as
a middle school.
The old Chester High School had only two principals in its history, Mr.
Mr. R.M. McFarland. Many local graduates returned to teach at their former
The big affair of the year for the students was the Prom which usually was
beautiful Virginia Gardens in Rock Springs Park.
The original theatre, called the Lincoln Theatre because of its location on
Lincoln Highway that ran through the center of Chester, was later named the
building was first used as a livery stable and then became the Arner-Bower
until a fire in 1916. The building was repaired enough to house the
Chester China for
a few years. The old Lincoln Theatre was quite a place, having been a
It was not unusual for rats to make an appearance during the shows. The
for 10 cents was very popular, especially when they had a Western, plus
that ran for 10 or 12 Saturdays.
As an added attraction during the Depression, the theatre had dish night
once a week,
giving away a piece of local pottery, anticipating that the person
receiving it would
come often enough to collect a whole set. Amateur nights were held when
wanted to could perform. Buster Brown and his dog performed on Saturday
while they were in town to promote Buster Brown shoes. The Alpine closed
theatres and television became more popular.
WORLD'S LARGEST TEAPOT
The Teapot was purchased by Mr. Wilford "Babe" Devon in 1938 and moved to
Carnegie, PA. It was used as an attraction to his business. He had the
first soft ice
cream in the area and sold other such items as hot dogs and soft drinks.
The teapot had
three different owners before the land where it was located was purchased
Telephone Company. The Teapot was in need of much repair when the Chester
Commission made arrangements for its removal to a spot at the edge of the
Springs Park on property given them by the State of WestVirginia. It was a
attraction bringing hundreds to Chester each year to see it. Even weddings
have been held
at the Teapot.
The early Bridge Company with stockholders from East Liverpool and Chester
in using the bridge for a street car line from East Liverpool to Chester,
but the East
Liverpool City Council refused until March of 1897 when they granted a
The lines were started in April and by May 26, 1897, the first street car
the bridge to First Street in Chester turning up Virginia Avenue to Third
right over to Carolina Avenue and finally left up Carolina Avenue to Rock
The first car was No. 11.
The first street car barn was in Chester (later the old Cord Tire Company),
but moved to
the East End of East Liverpool. The street cars were very regular and
transportation to the areas in West, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
The first train came to Chester in 1900 when lines were extended from
railroad at that time was the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis
Years later, it became the Pennsylvania Railroad Company and existed as
such until 1990
when their property was sold to the City of Chester. Stations were located
Street and Ninth Street with the Ninth Street Station handling all the
into Chester. A hotel was located at each station.
The station agent was kept busy with supplies for the local potteries, the
mill and later
the rubber factory, and the local automobile agencies since all cars were
rail. The station was truly a landmark for the upper-end of Chester. In
times, there were five employees at the station. An extra track was
installed for an
extra engine in case of an emergency.
TAYLOR, SMITH AND TAYLOR COMPANY
The pottery was formed originally at Taylor, Lee and Smith in 1899. It
in 1900. Lee sold his interest to Taylor in 1903 and the Smiths purchased
interest in 1906. A West Virginia charter was granted to Smith in 1907.
At one time,
this pottery was the world's largest pottery under one roof. It had been
17 kilns by 1913 withover 400 employees and a payroll of over $140,000. At
it employed over 800 workers.
It soon became one of the leading dinnerware companies in the world. It
was famous for
many innovations it brought to the industry. The Smiths, both C. A. and W.
retiring, passed the control to their sons who later passed it on to their
Smiths sold the plant to Anchor Hocking Glass Company who operated it a
very few years
until it was closed and the property sold. The Dietz family owns the
property at the
CHESTER CITY HALL
The original City Hall was a very small building on the corner of 4th and
Council looked for a new site and selected the present location which was
just a large
empty hole on Carolina Avenue. The present City Hall opened in 1927 and
also to house the Chester Fire Department.
The front room was the Police Headquarters where Mayor's Court was held. A
office and Council Chamber were also on the first floor. The rear right
two jail cells. A caretaker's apartment, gymnasium/auditorium, kitchen and
on the second floor. A lot of memories exist from use of the second floor
High School played their basketball games, stage plays and school plays
clubs and political caucuses were held, and graduates received their
The caretaker would cook the prisoner's meals for $1.00 a day. The late
Demar Miller had
many musical programs in the auditorium and secured many of the radio stars
Midnight Jamboree in Wheeling, including Big Slim and his horse, Little
the cowgirl, and others. After the war when veterans returned after World
War II, the city
opened the auditorium for basketball leagues. The Kiwanis had their first
pancake supper in
1952 at City Hall and the firemen held minstrels and bingo there. During
the flood of 1936,
the basement had over 4 feet of water in it.
THE OLD CHESTER BRIDGE
The early businessmen of Chester quickly learned that if this new area were
to succeed, they
had to have a bridge connecting them to East Liverpool. The ferry boat was
as it was often frozen in the ice and could not move.
It took from 1893 to 1895 to obtain enough investors to undertake the
construction of the
project which was to cost $250,000. In 1896, land was purchased in Ohio
for the connection.
By March of 1896, excavation for the piers began. By June, 1896, all stone
completed and the iron work was started in July, 1896.
Nine months of hard work was climaxed December 31, 1896 when the 1,466 ft.
long bridge was
completed. Many people walked the bridge but the official opening was New
Years Day 1897. To
walk or ride horses across, the cost was 5 cents a person.
The Chester bridge was sold to C. A. Smith in 1901 after it had gone
bankrupt. In 1936, the
bridge was completely rebuilt without stipping the traffic.
It was closed to traffic in 1972.
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