NEWARK STOVE COMPANY HISTORY
The Moser-Wehrle Stove Company was founded in 1883 by Joseph C. Wehrle and John Moser. The company occupied the former facility of the Blandy Machine Works. Moser-Wehrle produced coal and wood stoves made from a mixture of 95% iron and 5% steel. In 1889 the company moved their production to a site between Wilson Street and the railroad in order to take advantage of the rail system. In 1903, Moser sold his stock to Wehrle, and the factory became known as the Wehrle Stove Company. J.C. Wehrle and his sons, William and August, took over the roles of owner, president, and vice president, respectively, of the booming foundry. In 1904 the Wehrle Company held assets in excess of $1,000,000. The company acquired more land and vastly expanded its factory space on what would become Wehrle Avenue. At the height of the company’s success, it employed over 3,000 people and manufactured more than 200,000 stoves per year.
In 1936 the company changed its name to the Florence-Wehrle Co. after the factory was purchased by the Florence Stove Co. and Sears Roebuck. 1939 saw yet another name change when the business became known as Newark Stove.
Sears bought a controlling interest in the company in 1944, and in 1945 they discontinued the manufacture of all non-electric cooking stoves. Sears began to diversify the products made at the plant and began manufacturing rotary-powered lawn mowers in addition to electric stoves. By 1958, the business was known as the Newark Ohio Co. and was the largest manufacturer of lawn mowers in the world. That same year, the plant began producing Kenmore oven units for Sears.
The George D. Roper Corporation bought the company from Sears on June 30, 1964, marking the final transferal of ownership of the business. The industrial complex finally closed its doors on June 26, 1975.
The warehouses that were once bustling with industrious workers for three-quarters of a century sat vacant and in disrepair until Mid-Ohio Development, who purchased the site in 1980, made plans in 2008 to demolish the former manufacturing mecca. It wasn’t until 2010 that the demolition of the former factory took place. Mid-Ohio Development completed the project of clearing the twenty-five acre site, covering all of the costs of demolition without taxpayer money.